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Christmas IRumbers 

"E>ouseboU> Morfcs" 















With a Frontispiece by Dudley Gunston 









by Charles Dickens i 


by R. H. Home 9 


Edmund Oilier 29 


by Harriet Martineau . . . '34 

JOHN DOE, by George Augustus Sala . 49 

Eliza Griffiths 68 


by Samuel Sidney . . . -74 


by T. W. A. Buckley ... 90 


BOWL, by R. H. Home . . .104 

What Christmas Is as We 
Grow Older 


TIME was, with most of us, when Christ- 
mas Day encircling all our limited World like 
a magic ring, left nothing out for us to miss 
or seek ; bound together all our home enjoy- 
ments, affections, and hopes ; grouped every 
thing and every one around the Christmas 
fire ; and made the little picture shining in 
our bright young eyes, complete. 

Time came, perhaps, all so soon ! when our 
thoughts overleaped that narrow boundary ; 
when there was some one (very dear, we 
thought then, very beautiful, and absolutely 
perfect) wanting to the fulness of our happi- 
ness ; when we were wanting too (or we 
thought so, which did just as well) at the 
Christmas hearth by which that some one sat ; 
and when we intertwined with every wreath 
and garland of our life that some one's name. 

That was the time for the bright visionary 
Christmases which have long arisen from us 


to show faintly, after summer rain, in the 
palest edges of the rainbow ! That was the 
time for the beatified enjoyment of the things 
that were to be, and never were, and yet the 
things that were so real in our resolute hope 
that it would be hard to say, now, what 
realities achieved since, have been stronger ! 

What ! Did that Christmas never really 
come when we and the priceless pearl who 
was our young choice were received, after the 
happiest of totally impossible marriages, by the 
two united families previously at daggers-drawn 
on our account ? When brothers and sisters 
in law who had always been rather cool to us 
before our relationship was effected, perfectly 
doted on us, and when fathers and mothers 
overwhelmed us with unlimited incomes ? 
Was that Christmas dinner never really eaten, 
after which we arose, and generously and 
eloquently rendered honour to our late rival, 
present in the company, then and there ex- 
changing friendship and forgiveness, and found- 
ing an attachment, not to be surpassed in 
Greek or Roman story, which subsisted until 
death ? Has that same rival long ceased to 
care for that same priceless pearl, and married 
for money, and become usurious ? Above all, 
do we really know, now, that we should 
probably have been miserable if we had won 
and worn the pearl, and that we are better 
without her ? 


That Christmas when we had recently 
achieved so much fame ; when we had been 
carried in triumph somewhere, for doing 
something great and good ; when we had won 
an honoured and ennobled name, and arrived 
and were received at home in a shower of 
tears of joy ; is it possible that that Christmas 
has not come yet ? 

And is our life here, at the best, so con- 
stituted that, pausing as we advance at such 
a noticeable mile-stone in the track as this 
great birthday, we look back on the things 
that never were, as naturally and full as 
gravely as on the things that have been and 
are gone, or have been and still are ? If it be 
so, and so it seems to be, must we come to 
the conclusion, that life is little better than a 
dream, and little worth the loves and strivings 
that we crowd into it ? 

No ! Far be such miscalled philosophy from 
us, dear reader, on Christmas Day ! Nearer 
and closer to our hearts be the Christmas 
spirit, which is the spirit of active usefulness, 
perseverance, cheerful discharge of duty, 
kindness, and forbearance ! It is in the last 
virtues especially, that we are, or should be, 
strengthened by the unaccomplished visions 
of our youth ; for, who shall say that they are 
not our teachers to deal gently even with the 
impalpable nothings of the earth ! 

Therefore, as we grow older, let us be more 


thankful that the circle of our Christmas 
associations and of the lessons that they bring, 
expands ! Let us welcome every one of them, 
and summon them to take their places by the 
Christmas hearth. 

Welcome, old aspirations, glittering crea- 
tures of an ardent fancy, to your shelter 
underneath the holly ! We know you, and 
have not outlived you yet. Welcome, old 
projects and old loves, however fleeting, to 
your nooks among the steadier lights that burn 
around us. Welcome, all that was ever real 
to our hearts ; and for the earnestness that 
made you real, thanks to Heaven ! Do we 
build no Christmas castles in the clouds now ? 
Let our thoughts, fluttering like butterflies 
among these flowers of children, bear witness ! 
Before this boy, there stretches out a Future, 
brighter than we ever looked on in our old 
romantic time, but bright with honour and 
with truth. Around this little head on which 
the sunny curls lie heaped, the graces sport, 
as prettily, as airily, as when there was no 
scythe within the reach of Time to shear 
away the curls of our first-love. Upon 
another girl's face near it placider but 
smiling bright a quiet and contented little 
face, we see Home fairly written. Shining 
from the word, as rays shine from a star, 
we see how, when our graves are old, other 
hopes than ours are young, other hearts 


than ours are moved ; how other ways are 
smoothed ; how other happiness blooms, 
ripens, and decays no, not decays, for other 
homes and other bands of children, not yet in 
being nor for ages yet to be, arise, and bloom 
and ripen to the end of all ! 

Welcome, everything ! Welcome, alike what 
has been, and what never was, and what we 
hope may be, to your shelter underneath the 
holly, to your places round the Christmas 
fire, where what is sits open-hearted ! In 
yonder shadow, do we see obtruding furtively 
upon the blaze, an enemy's face ? By Christ- 
mas Day we do forgive him ! If the injury he 
has done us may admit of such companion- 
ship, let him come here and take his place. 
If, otherwise, unhappily, let him go hence, 
assured that he will never injure nor accuse 

On this day, we shut out Nothing ! 

" Pause," says a low voice. " Nothing ? 
Think !" 

" On Christmas Day, we will shut out from 
our fireside, Nothing." 

" Not the shadow of a vast City where the 
withered leaves are lying deep?" the voice 
replies. " Not the shadow that darkens the 
whole globe ? Not the shadow of the City 
of the Dead?" 

Not even that. Of all days in the year, 
we will turn our faces towards that City upon 



Christmas Day, and from its silent hosts bring 
those we loved, among us. City of the Dead, 
in the blessed name wherein we are gathered 
together at this time, and in the Presence that 
is here among us according to the promise, 
we will receive, and not dismiss, thy people 
who are dear to us ! 

Yes. We can look upon these children 
angels that alight, so solemnly, so beautifully, 
among the living children by the fire, and 
can bear to think how they departed from us. 
Entertaining angels unawares, as the Patri- 
archs did, the playful children are unconscious 
of their guests ; but we can see them can 
see a radiant arm around one favourite neck, 
as if there were a tempting of that child 
away. Among the celestial figures there is 
one, a poor mis-shapen boy on earth, of a 
glorious beauty now, of whom his dying 
mother said it grieved her much to leave him 
here, alone, for so many years as it was likely 
would elapse before he came to her being 
such a little child. But he went quickly, and 
was laid upon her breast, and in her hand she 
leads him. 

There was a gallant boy, who fell, far 
away, upon a burning sand beneath a burning 
sun, and said, " Tell them at home, with my 
last love, how much I could have wished to 
kiss them once, but that I died contented and 
had done my duty ! " Or there was another, 


over whom they read the words, " Therefore 
we commit his body to the deep ! " and so 
consigned him to the lonely ocean and sailed 
on. Or there was another who lay down to 
his rest in the dark shadow of great forests, 
and, on earth, awoke no more. O shall they 
not, from sand and sea and forest, be brought 
home at such a time ! 

There was a dear girl almost a woman 
never to be one who made a mourning 
Christmas in a house of joy, and went her 
trackless way to the silent City. Do we re- 
collect her, worn out, faintly whispering what 
could not be heard, and falling into that last 
sleep for weariness ? O look upon her now ! 
O look upon her beauty, her serenity, her 
changeless youth, her happiness ! Thedaughter 
of Jairus was recalled to life, to die ; but she, 
more blest, has heard the same voice, saying 
unto her, " Arise for ever ! " 

We had a friend who was our friend from 
early days, with whom we often pictured the 
changes that were to come upon our lives, 
and merrily imagined how we would speak, 
and walk, and think, and talk, when we came 
to be old. His destined habitation in the City 
of the Dead received him in his prime. Shall 
he be shut out from our Christmas remem- 
brance ? Would his love have so excluded 
us ? Lost friend, lost child, lost parent, sister, 
brother, husband, wife, we will not so discard 


you ! You shall hold your cherished places in 
our Christmas hearts, and by our Christmas 
fires ; and in the season of immortal hope, 
and on the birthday of immortal mercy, we 
will shut out Nothing ! 

The winter sun goes down over town and 
village ; on the sea it makes a rosy path, 
as if the Sacred tread were fresh upon the 
water. A few more moments, and it sinks, 
and night comes on, and lights begin to 
sparkle in the prospect. On the hill-side 
beyond the shapelessly-difrused town, and in 
the quiet keeping of the trees that gird the 
village-steeple, remembrances are cut in stone, 
planted in common flowers, growing in grass, 
entwined with lowly brambles around many 
a mound of earth. In town and village, there 
are doors and windows closed against the 
weather, there are flaming logs heaped high, 
there are joyful faces, there is healthy music 
of voices. Be all ungentleness and harm 
excluded from the temples of the Household 
Gods, but be those remembrances admitted 
with tender encouragement ! They are of 
the time and all its comforting and peaceful 
reassurances ; and of the history that re- 
united even upon earth the living and the 
dead ; and of the broad beneficence and good- 
ness that too many men have tried to tear to 
narrow shreds. 


What Christmas Is to a 
Bunch of People 


THE FATHER OF A FAMILY rubs his hands 
with a genial smile when Christmas comes ; 
and yet he now and then raises one finger to 
the calculating " organ " of his cranium with 
rather a thoughtful air, suggestive of certain 
bills and taxes, which he is resolved shall not 
weigh upon his mind. Why should they ? 
He will get through his Christmas bills some- 
how or other, as he has done before. He has 
no doubt of being able to muster the money 
to " article " his eldest son to a highly respect- 
able solicitor ; he has already laid up a small 
portion for his eldest daughter, and makes 
pretty sure of doing as much for the others by 
the time they are old enough to be married. 
He has a good business ; his wife is a clever 
manager j they live happily together ; the 
holly-berries smile at him with the well- 
remembered sparkle of early days ; he there- 
fore determines to enjoy the merry season as 



of old. What if he does see half-a-dozen more 
grey hairs displaying themselves, as though to 
remind him that another year has passed, and 
a certain line or two in his face does look a 
trifle deeper than when he had last observed 
it ? What have such small matters to do 
with the real age of a man ? A man is as 
old as he feels, and no more. The fact is, 
the Father of a Family is as young as he was 
twenty years ago ; so he gives his hair an 
additional and rather flourishing touch with a 
comb, puts on a new waistcoat, brushes the 
collar of his coat, and, looking down with 
complacency on his boots as he sets his hat 
lightly upon his head, sallies out upon the 
landing-place, and shouts a jaunty inquiry as 
to when his wife and daughter will be ready 
to go to church. The boys are gone on before. 
Meanwhile he stands thrumming a pleased, 
but impatient, tattoo with his fingers upon the 
banisters, and inhaling every now and then a 
savoury whiff of sweet herbs rising up from 
the kitchen. 

THE MOTHER OF A FAMILY has a world of 
anxious thoughts about her. She likes Christ- 
mas ; it is, no doubt, a pleasant time ; there 
are many sweet memories and hopes attending 
it, and altogether it must be considered as 
happy : but the butcher's bill, she knows, 
must be heavy the baker's too and as for 
the grocer's, she is almost afraid to think of it. 


Besides this, there is a new dress-maker's bill, 
which she has not yet told Mr. Broadback 
about. But how was all this to be avoided ? 
As to herself, she could not do with less, nor 
her eldest daughter, especially on the eve of 
her marriage a happy marriage she most 
devoutly hopes it will be. Then there aje the 
growing girls, all of whose dresses have got 
so shockingly short, that she could almost 
wish the follies of Bloomerism had been 
softened and translated, and entered England 
under another character as a Persian, Turkish, 
or Polish ladies' "fashions," just imported 
from Paris so that something economically 
elegant might have gradually been introduced, 
inch by inch, as it were, to the great saving of 
the Mothers of large families of daughters. 
As for the bonnet-maker, she must wait. It 
is unknown what sums have been paid that 
bonnet-maker in the course of the last six 
years. Perhaps it would be best not to think 
any more of these matters just at present. 
At any rate, Mr. Broadback shall have a good 
Christmas dinner ; she will take care of that ; 
and all their relations and friends who are 
invited shall be made as happy as possible. 

THE ELDEST SON has a mixed feeling 
about Christmas. He has no very romantic 
impressions of the study of the Law ; but he 
wishes to begin life, and to take the first step 
towards making his way in the world ; and as 


he is to be articled to Mr. Benjamin Sheep- 
skin early in January, he looks upon the 
intermediate time rather impatiently. At 
least he would do so, but that his cousin Ellen 
is to dine with them on Christmas Day, and 
stay on a visit for a week afterwards, during 
which there will be round games and forfeits, 
and he will "go partners" with his cousin, 
and dance with her, and show her all his law- 
books, and decoy her under the mistletoe- 
bough ; and so he expects to pass a very 
merry time before he goes to the office of Mr. 

What Christmas is to THE ELDEST 
DAUGHTER, we may pretty well infer from 
the increased brightness in her eyes, the 
frequent blush that suffuses her soft cheeks, 
the occasional pensive air suddenly awakening 
up with a smile, the tender sigh, and the 
additional pains she takes with her beautiful 
hair, which is never out of order, and yet she 
thinks it continually needs to be brushed and 
smoothed, and set to rights. To her, Christ- 
mas evidently comes with a wedding-ring con- 
cealed in a wreath of evergreen. 

Besides the eldest son, there are "THE 
BOYS ; " and these rollicking young chaps are 
home for the holidays ; and Christmas to them 
is (weather permitting) an endless succession 
of sliding and snow-balls, and hoops, and 
going on the ice ; and plum-puddings, and 



mince-pies, and games at blind-man's-buff, 
and other romps in the evening, with snap- 
dragon after supper. 

To THE YOUNGEST CHILD a little bright- 
eyed fairy of five years old, in a white and 
sky-blue frock, purple sash, and red shoes 
Christmas is a season of romance. It is a 
whirl of shining hours, in which there are 
new toys of mysterious beauty, and dances, 
and kisses, and cakes of all sorts, and sweet- 
meats, and wonderful things made of painted 
sugar, and all the creatures of the earth, with 
Noah's Ark in the middle, and brothers and 
sisters, and playmates, the eldest of whom is 
not yet " gone eight " spoken of, like a little 
clock ! and Mamma in a new dress, shining 
with bracelets, and a chain and things ; and 
dear Auntie with a busy face making some- 
thing nice to eat ; and loud shouting and 
crowding round a Christmas tree, all of green 
and gold, with lights ; and glittering presents 
of priceless value dangling from every twig, 
and hidden in deep green recesses of the 
boughs. This is the true Fairy-land we have 
all read so much about ! 

But THE MAIDEN AUNT, she who so con- 
tinually sits on one side, out of the way, or in 
the quiet shade of a corner she who is so 
continually forgotten, except when some kind 
assistance is needed shall we, too, forget her ? 
Far from it. We well know what Christmas 



is to her. All her life is devoted to amiable 
disinterested acts of practical aid to all in the 
house who need it ; and the period of Christ- 
mas, to her, is the summing up of a year's 
account of sympathies and kindly offices, of 
which she herself takes no note beyond the 
moment, and which have no place in her 
memory except to cause a sigh of regret when 
any gentle service has not effected all the good 
she intended. 

What Christmas is to THE OLD HOUSE- 
KEEPER of a substantial family, more wealthy 
than the one just described, we must all see 
at once to be a very serious business indeed ; 
complicated, and full of grave cares, packages 
of hope, close-covered preparations, and spicy 
responsibilities. There she stands, with her 
tortoise-shell spectacles, and a great bunch of 
keys dangling over her white apron ! No 
minister of State thinks more of herself 
(Heaven forgive us ! himself) than this old 
lady does. Her " linen closet " is a model of 
neatness and order ; her " china closet " is set 
out with the utmost precision, and not without 
an eye to effect in the prominent display on 
the highest shelves of the choice old china- 
bowls, basins, tea-cups, saucers, and an im- 
mensely ancient tea-pot of the ugliest shape 
imaginable, and covered with very ugly faded 
paintings, of great value. But most of all is 
her pride and importance in the house, and in 


her own self-esteem, displayed when she un- 
locks and opens the door of her " store-room." 
No one must enter but the Housekeeper her- 
self. You may stand outside, and lean round 
the sides of the open door, and peep in but 
no more. There, you see large tea-canisters 
of different sizes and coffee-canisters and 
dark slate-blue paper bags and polished 
wooden spice-boxes, tall, and round, and un- 
screwing in several places and boxes of 
raisins, and a fig-drum, and many packets of 
different sizes, with a large white cone of loaf- 
sugar standing in the midst (we think the 
Youngest Child of this family really must be 
allowed to come in, and look about, but not 
touch anything) and light bundles of dry 
herbs hanging from nails, and small baskets 
attached to hooks, and half a German sausage, 
besides three Bath chaps swinging by short 
strings from nails on the edge of the top shelf ; 
while, ranged along the shelves, the Child sees 
a beautiful array of white jam-pots and preserve- 
pots, and brown pickle-jars, and wide-necked 
glass bottles full of deep-coloured cherries, and 
preserved gooseberries, plums, apricots, and 
other fruits with honey-jars, and tamarind- 
jars ; and beneath each shelf, a range of drawers 
with brass handles, labelled outside with the 
names of all the nicest, and some of the most 
mysterious, things, in the eatable world. 

What this period of the year is to THE 



GARDENER, we may easily guess, from great 
armfuls of mistletoe-boughs, of holly-boughs 
thick with berries, and of branches of laurel 
which he is continually carrying into the 
house, or going with as a present to neigh- 
bouring houses. And now, see him coming 
along with a bending back, bearing an entire 
fir-tree, which gracefully nods its head as he 
slowly trudges along, and shakes and rustles 
all its dry brown cones, as if in dumb anti- 
cipation of the peals of bells that will shortly 
be rung ! This fir is for the Christmas Tree 
the green and simple foundation and super- 
structure, which is shortly destined to sustain 
so much brightness and romance, so many 
glittering presents, and to be the medium of 
so many sweet feelings, joyous hopes, and 
tender sense of childhood in present bright 
visions around us, and in tender recollections 
of the past. 

As for THE NURSE, there can be no doubt 
but Christmas is a very anxious time for her. 
She expects so many of the young folks will 
make themselves very ill with all this quantity 
of plum-pudding, and plum-cake, and mince- 
pies. However, she consoles herself, on the 
whole, for any extra trouble she may have in 
pouring out, or mixing and stirring wine- 
glasses of physic, and trying to conceal 
powders in honey or red-currant jelly (and 
then getting them down /) by the proud 



recollection that she had the lady of the house 
in her arms when a child ; and this conscious- 
ness makes her feel of the highest importance 
in the family. 

But THE DOCTOR the medical attendant 
of the family there are no mixed feelings or 
misgivings in his mind. He hears of all the 
preparations all the nice things and shakes 
his head gravely at the lady of the house ; but 
the instant he is outside the door, he hurries 
homeward, rubbing his knuckles. He knows ! 

The black coat of THE VICAR has a richer 
and more prominent tone of black, as he walks 
across the broad snow of his seven-acre field, 
towards the stile that leads into the lane that 
runs to the vestry-door of the church. The 
snow-covered hedges, with frosted twigs at top, 
nod and glisten to him as he moves briskly 
onward, pointing his Church-and-stately black 
toe along the narrow path, beside the deep 
cart-rut, with its rough and jagged ridges. 
Christmas to him is a series of dinners, and 
" offerings," and good things, and compliments, 
and wedding fees, and burial fees, and christen- 
ing fees, and charity sermons, exhorting the 
rich to remember the poor, and exhorting the 
poor to be meek and contented, and trust to 
Providence. Meantime, THE CURATE goes 
to tea-parties, and has a great deal to do in 
the details of Church business affairs, as the 
vestries are often very troublesome ; and has 
17 c 


much to do in visiting the sick, and administering 
religious consolation, and riding on horseback 
to do double duty morning service, here 
afternoon, there evening service, here again, 
or somewhere else. This is the ordinary, 
regular, hard-working, useful Curate ; but if 
he be a spruce young Puseyite Curate, in a 
black silk sacerdotal dress-waistcoat, with a 
narrow, stiff white neck-tie, and a black super- 
fine frock-coat, cut to the quick then, he 
very often rivals the Vicar in his dinner- 
parties, and gives him the " go-by " in evening- 
parties, where he clean carries off most of the 
young ladies for a little intense talk of divine 
things, in one corner of the room. 

If Christmas be a great fact to THE 
BEADLE, the Beadle seems a greater fact to 
Christmas. New broad-cloth new scarlet 
and gold new gold-laced cocked hat, of old 
Lord Mayor fashion new gold-headed cane 
no wonder that all the little charity boys eye 
his inflated presence with additional awe ! No 
wonder that it is inflated, for he is swollen 
with the substantial comforts derived from 
all the great kitchens in the neighbourhood. 
There is a roasted ox in his mind. He can 
never forget the year when one was roasted 
whole upon the ice, and he present, and 
allowed to take his turn with the basting- 
ladle. It was the epic event of his life. 

The Beadle is generally able to frown the 


charity boys into awe and silence ; assisting 
the said frown, every now and then, with a 
few cuts of a long yellow twining cane, 
during service ; whereby, amidst the sonorous 
tones of the preacher, there often breaks out a 
squealing cry from the hollow and remote 
aisles, or distant rows of heads in the organ 
loft, to the great injury of the eloquence of the 
pastor, and the gravity of the junior portion of 
his congregation. 

But though this parish Terror of the Poor 
has portentous frowns for most of those under 
his dominion, he knows how to patronise with 
a smile, and his rubicund beams, at all seasons 
of festival, and more especially at Christmas, 
fall encouragingly upon all the cooks of the 
best houses round about. Perhaps, upon the 
chief Bell-ringer perhaps, we may say, upon 
all the bell-ringers and now and then upon 
the Sexton, with whom he does a little private 
business, in the way of gratuities from mourn- 
ing relatives who come to visit graves. But 
as for the Pew-opener, envy of her gains at 
Christmas, and her obduracy in concealing 
their extent, renders him a foe to her 
existence, and haughtily unconscious of her 
presence as often as he can affect not to see 
her. There was, once upon a time, a good 
Beadle, who married a Pew-opener but it 
was a long while ago so long, that it is 
thought to have been in the good old &c. 



Christmas is not what it was to THE POST- 
MAN. The Government has interfered sadly 
with his collection of " boxes " from house to 
house ; so that now he only receives grate- 
fully a shilling, here and there, in streets where 
formerly he had but to announce, after a loud 
double-rap, that " the Postman has called for 
his Christmas-box ! " and down came the 
shilling, almost as a lawful right. He looks 
melancholy as he sits on the bench outside a 
country public-house j and when the Landlord 
inquires the cause, he hints at the altered 
times. But he does not get much sympathy 
in this quarter ; for THE PUBLICAN feels that 
the alteration is considerably in his favour. 
He has had a new beer-machine for his bar, 
all beautiful with inlaid brass and ivory ; he 
has added a wing to his house, and he feels a 
proud consciousness that, if all his town rela- 
tions live in " palaces," he is quite as important 
to the sinners, his subjects, in the country. 

To THE CATTLE-DROVER this is a season of 
arduous business, by day and by night, urging 
his fatigued and often refractory beasts along 
the dark roads ; and when they enter among 
the many lights and glare of London, as they 
sometimes do in the evening, what Christmas 
is to the poor cattle, as well as the men, may 
be conjectured ; and all things considered, one 
may fairly say the oxen have the worst of it. 
THE SHEPHERD who is driving a flock of 


sheep to the Christmas market, seldom sees 
much amusement by the way ; events with 
him are rare; but the journey of THE PIG- 
DROVERS up to town is always a " chequered " 
history. One pig or another is sure to be of 
an original turn of mind, and several are sure 
to follow his example for a little while, and 
then branch off into a line of conduct suited 
exclusively to their own individuality : under 
cart-wheels, dodging round pumps, hiding 
noses behind tree-trunks in the country, and 
behind theatrical boards in the front of town 
shops ; rushing into hedges, and round hay- 
stacks, as the drove moves unwillingly along 
lanes and roads ; and into wine-cellars, and 
round lamp-posts, and up "all manner of 
streets" in London. THE TURKEY-DROVER 
has also a very busy time of it just now ; and 
THE GOOSE-DROVER far more. The greater 
difficulty attending the flocks of geese is not 
because they are so much more numerous than 
the turkeys, as on account of the perverse, 
irritable, and stupid conditions of mind which 
alternate with the goose. It is to be remem- 
bered that the warlike turkey-cock (so aptly 
called in Scotland the bubbly-jock) and the 
mature fierce-necked, wing-threatening, uni- 
versally-assaulting gander, being preserved by 
their toughness, are not present in these festive 
processions. We speak only of the young and 
middle-aged turkey and goose ; but while we 


give the degree of difficulty in their safe- 
conduct very much to the side of the latter, we 
are almost disposed to agree with the eminent 
poet, who has sung its praises in another sense, 
finely combining with that praise a kind of 
hint at a moral justification for its death : 

" Of all the fowls that stock the farm, 

The Goose must be preferred ; 
There is so much of nutriment 
In that weak-minded bird." 

Christmas to THE BUTCHER is nothing less 
than a bazaar of fine meat, displayed with all 
the elegancies (they are not numerous) of 
which his craft is susceptible. With a smiling 
countenance and ruddy cheek he walks back- 
wards and forwards, through his shop all hung 
with choice specimens of last year's " grass "- 
the sun gleaming across them by day, and the 
gas shining at night upon the polished surfaces, 
and delicate white fat, and sparkling amidst 
the branches of holly, stuck about in all direc- 
tions. He very much approves of the vigorous 
way in which one of his men continues to 
bawl in a sharp, quick tone, " Now then, 
t' buy ! t' buy ! " when the most unlikely 
people, or when no people at all, are passing. 
It all looks like business and bustle. 

THE BAKER stands amidst his walls of 
loaves, built up, shelf upon shelf, with other 
shelves packed close with quartern and half- 



quartern paper-bags of flour, and he glances 
from the topmost tier down to the flour- 
whitened trap-door in one corner of his shop- 
floor, wherefrom appears an ascending tray, 
heaped up with long French rolls, cottage- 
loaves, twists, rusks, and hot-spiced ginger- 
bread-nuts. This loaded tray continues to rise 
upon a man's head, which is gradually followed 
by his body, and the whole structure approach- 
ing the counter is speedily unloaded. In less 
than half-an-hour, all that was thus brought 
from below has disappeared ; the walls of 
loaves have diminished in great gaps ; more 
loaves come smoking in, to supply their places, 
and more trays of rolls, twists, gingerbread- 
nuts, and fancy bread, with piles of biscuits, 
ascend through the trap-door. The Baker has 
a nice-looking daughter (as most bakers in 
England have), and she now comes in smiling, 
and displaying a row of pearly teeth, and 
assists in taking money. They both agree that 
although summer has its advantages, there is 
no time of the year so pleasant as Christmas. 

THE GROCER is one of the most flourishing 
men in all the world at this season. His shop 
is a small and over-crowded epitome of the 
produce of the East. He is evidently in con- 
stant correspondence with China, has the most 
" friendly relations " in India, is on familiar 
terms with the Spice Islands, has confidential 
friends in Egypt, Barbary, and on " Candy's 



shore ; " while, as to Jamaica, and other West 
India Islands, he has a box, a cask, or a 
case, by every post, to say nothing of Arabia, 
France, Greece, Spain, Italy, and, in fine, all 
the trading ports of the Mediterranean Sea. 
To the Grocer we may fairly say that Christ- 
mas is a general shaking by the hand, with 
fingers extremely sticky, of foreign relations 
and agents in every country, whence something 
good to eat, in the shape of dried fruits, spices, 
teas, coffees, sugars, preserves and condiments, 
are possible to be procured. If he has a newly- 
arrived Chinese picture, inlaid caddy, monster 
idol, or tea-pot, now is his time to make a 
feature of it in his window ! 

THE GREEN-GROCER is a genuine English- 
man ; he cannot boast of the foreign com- 
modities of the tea-and-sugar mountebank over 
the way. He has no wish to do it. He deals 
entirely in home produce. All that he sells is 
the natural result of the cultivation of the soil 
of his native country : from celery, beetroot, 
sea-kale, and cabbage-sprouts, to Jerusalem 
artichokes and sage and onions. All of 
English growth ! He could very easily hollow 
out a turnip ; cut eyes, nose, and mouth in it ; 
stick a bit of candle inside ; and then set it up 
for a "show," all among the endive and 
parsley, in the middle of his window on 
Christmas Eve ; but he scorns all such 
attempts to attract public attention. It may 


be very well for the Grocer over the way ; but 
that sort of thing won't do for a man who 
deals in natural greens ! 

Christmas, to THE PASTRYCOOK, is the 
season when the human mind, if well regu- 
lated, is chiefly occupied in the contemplation 
of mince-pies. Also in eating them, and 
decidedly in paying for them. But a very large 
consumption of holiday plum-cakes is not the 
less expected by the patriotic pastrycook. 
There is another yet greater event in his 
mind, though he does not break ground with 
this till after Christmas Day ; and that is, the 
advance of Twelfth Night. While, therefore, 
he expects the public to be solely occupied 
with mince-pies and other seasonable matters, 
he is secretly at work in the production of a 
full set (we forget how many he told us made 
a set) of the richest and most elaborately 
decorated and " dramatised " Twelfth Cakes 
which the juvenile world of England has ever 
yet beheld. The man's half-crazy. His wife 
says he gets no sleep with thinking of his cakes. 
The other night he started up in bed, and cried 
out " Sugar-frost and whitening ! " till his 
night-cap stood on end. Though why on 
earth as the good lady remarked, on second 
thoughts, "he should talk of whitening, she 
couldn't form the remotest idea in life ! " 

No doubt Christmas is the season which 
calls forth the most unmitigated hatred of 



poachers in the breast of the patriotic POUL- 
TERER. He says they are pests of society, and 
the wickedest men going. There is no excuse 
for strong fellows leading an idle life, as most 
of the poachers do. It is worse than idle ; he 
calls it thievish and villanous. He would be 
the last man in all England to encourage such 
doings. On the contrary, he would show them 
no mercy. Every man-jack of them that could 
be caught, he would send for two or three days 
to hard work on Primrose Hill. After this 
they would become better and wiser men ; 
more industrious, more cautious ; not so full 
of talk in beer-houses ; more punctual and 
reliable ; altogether more useful members of 
society. But as for his show of hares and other 
game, this Christmas, he will warrant every 
one, as having been honestly come by, and 
duly paid for, and not too " high " for imme- 
diate eating. What a capital show he makes 
this year ! One hundred and twenty long- 
legs (as he familiarly calls the hares), three 
hundred rabbits, fifty brace of pheasants, ninety 
brace of " birds," twenty brace of woodcocks, 
thirty brace of snipe, a hundred and fifty brace 
of pigeons, two hundred turkeys, three hundred 
geese, with wild ducks, tame ducks, and barn- 
door fowls innumerable ! The inside of his 
shop is full in every corner ; from countless 
hooks hang rows of turkeys by the necks, and 
long double chains of sausages and rows of 


ducks, and rows of fowls, all dangling by the 
necks, too, and in full feather ; while his 
shelves present compact arrays of fowls plucked 
and trussed, and powdered, and blown up in 
the breast with a blow-pipe : their livers and 
gizzards tucked neatly, like opera-hats, under 
their pinions. Rows of them, also, like small 
batteries, front the street. The outside of his 
house, even up to the second-floor window, is 
hung with hares, rabbits, pheasants, wild ducks, 
turkeys, and partridges. 

But, if Christmas is a season of greatness to 
some, of hilarity to many, of importance to all, 
it is pre-eminently a season of equal anxiety 
and splendour to THE COOK. Her long kitchen- 
range is a perfect bonfire from morning to 
night, while the various bright utensils which 
are placed upon the chimney-piece and on the 
walls at both sides of it, are profusely inter- 
spersed with twigs and boughs of holly. 
" Now, do get out of my way, all of you ! 
don't you see how much I have got on my 
mind with this Christmas dinner ! Where's 
Jane ? Jane Stokes ! oh, the plague of 
kitchen-maids ! they're always out of the 
way at the moment they're most wanted. 
Barbara, are the vegetables washed ? " " Not 
yet, Cook ! " It's always " not yet " with 
them scullery-girls ! Oh, how the Cook 
wishes there were no need for any help from 
any soul alive, if so be as she could . but do 


everything herself, which is that is where it 
is and all about it ! But the Christmas dinner 
don't get spoiled ; by no means everything 
turns out excellently, and compliments, like 
full-blown cabbage-roses, are showered upon 
Cook from the visitors of the hospitable board. 
They are brought to her, as she sits wiping 
her forehead, and all her face and throat, in 
a cool and remote corner. Her heart expands ; 
she loves all mankind ; and she retires to rest, 
after a small glass of cordial, at peace with 
herself and all the world. 


An Idyl for Christmas 


" The houses were decked with evergreens in 
December that the Sylvan Spirits might repair to 
them, and remain unnipped with frost and cold 
winds, until a milder season had renewed the foliage 
of their abodes.' 7 BRAND'S Popular Antiquities. 

SCENE : A room by twilight, on Christmas Eve : the 
Jire burning with a sleepy red. Branches of 
Holly, Laurel, and Mistletoe, hanging on the 
'walls. A Sylvan Spirit sitting in each plant. 


THE icy streams are black and slow ; 
The icy wind goes sighing, sighing ; 
And far around, and deep below, 
The great, broad, blank, unfeatured snow 
On the idle earth is lying ; 
And the birds in the air are dying. 
Just now, ere the day-beams fled, 
Out of doors I thrust my head, 
And saw the livid western light 


Shrink up, like an eye bewitch'd, 

At the staring of the Night. 

The bare branches writhed and twitch'd ; 

And the holly-bushes old 

Chatter' d among themselves for cold, 

And scraped their leaves 'gainst one another, 

And nestled close, like child with mother. 

Ay, not all the globy fire 

Of their berries, scarlet hot, 

Which the mortals all admire, 

Could their bodies warm a jot : 

They look'd heavy and sad, God wot ! 

The nested birds sat close together, 

'Plaining of the mournful weather ; 

And the tough and tangled hedges, 

Near and distant, mark'd the track 

Of the roadway, and the edges 

Of the fields, with lines of black. 

Soon I skipp'd, all shivering, back. 

Here, beneath the sheltering eaves 

Of the ceiling, dry and warm, 

Air, like breath of Summer, weaves 

In between my glossy leaves, 

Doing me no harm : 

And the CHRISTMAS spirit benign 

Sparkles in my heart like wine. 


GONE is the Summer's warmth and light ; 
Gone are the rich, red Autumn days ; 



And Winter old, and Winter white, 
Sits moodily in the open ways. 
Like a great dumb marble statue, 
'Bideth he upon the wold ; 
And his grey eyes, staring at you, 
Make you also dumb with cold. 
And the woods grow lean and swarth 
In the vexings of the North ; 
Fill'd with sighings and lamentations 
Of the winged forest nations, 
Who, beneath their shattered bowers, 
Wonder at the gusty showers, 
And the length of the dark hours. 
But the in-door year is bright 
With the flush of CHRISTMAS light ; 
And the breath of that glad comer 
Kindles with a second Summer, 
In the which, blithe hearts are seen 
Bursting into tenfold green, 
Till they sit embower'd, and sing 
Under their own blossoming. 
Therefore we, the woodland fairies, 
Hold at present with the Lares, 
Leaving Winter for the noon 
Of this glowing household June ; 
Whereunto an added splendour 
Preternatural we render, 
Quickening, as with inward soul, 
The intensely-burning coal. 



BEHIND the night young morn is sleeping, 

And new hope underlies old weeping. 

So, though all the woods are stark, 

And the heavens are drowsy-dark, 

Earth, within her shadows dun, 

Swings about the golden sun, 

Firm and steadily, 

True and readily, 

Strong in her pulses, every one. 

In a deadly sleep she seems ; 

But her heart is full of dreams 

Full of dreaming and of vision, 

Subtle, typical, Elysian, 

Out of which, in time, shall rise 

All the New Year's verities. 

And the spirit within her veins 

Laughs and leaps like April rains ; 

Warming with electric breath 

The dark coldness underneath, 

Where, close shut from human seeing, 

Lie the secret nests of being, 

And the embryo phantoms, hosts 

Of pale ante-natal ghosts, 

Bloodless germs of flowers and leaves, 

From which the lady Spring receives, 

When they wake to life, the flush 

Of her many-colour'd blush. 

Meanwhile, every shade of sadness 

Melts away in CHRISTMAS gladness. 



Green old CHRISTMAS ! he doth bring 
With him his peculiar Spring ; 
Newly-germinating kindness, 
Mutual help in human blindness, 
Closing of old wounds, fresh greetings, 
Souls a-flow at genial meetings, 
Hovering fancies, loving laughter, 
And the grave thoughts coming after ; 
All the lightness, brightness, dancing, 
Interflowing, rainbow glancing, 
Awful sweetness, wing'd with pleasure, 
Of a heart that has no measure. 


THEREFORE will we here remain 

Till the woods are green again, 

And the sun makes golden glooms 

In the forest's pillar'd rooms. 

Here we can abide together 

Through the fire-lit CHRISTMAS weather, 

And, though none may us descry, 

Touch with sense of mystery 

The hot feasting and loud joy, 

Which, uncurb'd, themselves destroy, 

And die childless : for true mirth, 

Like the Heaven-embraced earth, 

Should be large and full yet bound 

By the haunted depths all round. 


What Christmas Is in 
Country Places 


IF we want to see the good old Christmas 
the traditional Christmas of old England, we 
must look for it in the country. There are 
lasting reasons why the keeping of Christmas 
cannot change in the country as it may in 
towns. The seasons themselves ordain the 
festival. The close of the year is an interval 
of leisure in agricultural regions ; the only 
interval of complete leisure in the year ; and 
all influences and opportunities concur to make 
it a season of holiday and festivity. If the 
weather is what it ought to be at that time, 
the autumn crops are in the ground ; and the 
springing wheat is safely covered up with snow. 
Everything is done for the soil that can be 
done at present ; and as for the clearing and 
trimming and repairing, all that can be looked 
to in the after part of the winter ; and the 
planting is safe if done before Candlemas. 
The plashing of hedges, and cleaning of 



ditches, and trimming of lanes, and mending 
of roads, can be got through between Twelfth 
Night and the early spring ploughing ; and a 
fortnight may well be given to jollity, and 
complete change. 

Such a holiday requires a good deal of prepara- 
tion : so Christmas is, in this way also, a more 
weighty affair in the rural districts than else- 
where. The strong beer must be brewed. 
The pigs must be killed weeks before ; the 
lard is wanted ; the bacon has to be cured j 
the hams will be in request ; and, if brawn is 
sent to the towns, it must be ready before the 
children come home for the holidays. Then, 
there is the fattening of the turkeys and geese 
to be attended to ; a score or two of them to 
be sent to London, and perhaps half-a-dozen 
to be enjoyed at home. When the gentleman, 
or the farmer, or the country shop-keeper, goes 
to the great town for his happy boys and girls, 
he has a good deal of shopping to do. Besides 
carrying a note to the haberdasher, and order- 
ing coffee, tea, dried fruit, and spices, he must 
remember not to forget the packs of cards that 
will be v/anted for loo and whist. Perhaps 
he carries a secret order for fiddlestrings from 
a neighbour who is practising his part in good 

There is one order of persons in the country 
to whom the month of December is anything 
but a holiday season the cooks. Don't tell 



us of town cooks in the same breath ! It is 
really overpowering to the mind to think what 
the country cooks have to attend to. The 
goose-pie, alone, is an achievement to be com- 
placent about ; even the most ordinary goose- 
pie ; still more, a superior one, with a whole 
goose in the middle, and another cut up and 
laid round ; with a fowl or two, and a pheasant 
or two, and a few larks put into odd corners ; 
and the top, all shiny with white of egg, figured 
over with leaves of pastry, and tendrils and 
crinkle-crankles, with a bunch of the more 
delicate bird feet standing up in the middle. 
The oven is the cook's child and slave ; the 
great concern of her life, at this season. She 
pets it, she humours it, she scolds it, and she 
works it without rest. Before daylight she is 
at it baking her oat-bread ; that bread which 
requires such perfect behaviour on the part of 
the oven ! Long lines of oat-cakes hang over- 
head, to grow crisp before breakfast ; and these 
are to be put away when crisp, to make room 
for others ; for she can hardly make too much. 
After breakfast, and all day, she is making and 
baking meat-pies, mince-pies, sausage- rolls, 
fruit-pies, and cakes of all shapes, sizes, and 
colours. And at night, when she can scarcely 
stand for fatigue, she " banks " the oven fire, 
and puts in the great jar of stock for the 
soups, that the drawing may go on, from all 
sorts of savoury odds and ends, while every- 



thing but the drowsy fire is asleep. She 
wishes the dear little lasses would not come 
messing and fussing about, making ginger- 
bread and cheesecakes. She would rather do 
it herself, than have them in her way. But 
she has not the heart to tell them so. On the 
contrary, she gives them ginger, and cuts the 
citron-peel bountifully for them ; hoping, the 
while, that the weather will be fine enough 
for them to go into the woods with their 
brothers for holly and ivy. Meantime, the 
dairy-woman says (what she declares every 
Christmas) that she never saw such a demand 
for cream and butter ; and that, before Twelfth 
N ight, there will be none. And how, at that 
season, can she supply eggs by scores, as she 
is expected to do ? The gingerbread baked, 
the rosiest apples picked out from their straw 
in the apple-closet, the cats, and dogs, and 
canary birds, played with and fed, the little 
lasses run out to see what the boys are about. 
The woodmen want something else than 
green to dress the house with. They are 
looking for the thickest, and hardest, and 
knottiest block of wood they can find, that 
will go into the kitchen chimney. A gnarled 
stump of elm will serve their purpose best ; 
and they trim it into a size to send home. 
They fancy that their holiday is to last as 
long as this log remains ; and they are satis- 
fied that it will be uncommonly difficult to 



burn up this one. This done, one of them 
proceeds with the boys and girls to the copses 
where the hollies are thickest ; and by carrying 
his bill-hook, he saves a vast deal of destruction 
by rending and tearing. The poor little birds, 
which make the hollies so many aviaries in 
winter, coming to feed on the berries, and to 
pop in among the shining leaves for shelter, 
are sadly scared, and out they flit on all sides, 
and away to the great oak, where nobody will 
follow them. For, alas ! there is no real 
mistletoe now. There is to be something so 
called hung from the middle of the kitchen 
ceiling, that the lads and lasses may snatch 
kisses and have their fun ; but it will have no 
white berries, and no Druidical dignity about 
it. It will be merely a bush of evergreen, 
called by some a mistletoe, and by others the 
Bob, which is supposed to be a corruption of 
" bough." When all the party have got their 
fagots tied up, and strung over their shoulders, 
and button-holes, hats, and bonnets stuck with 
sprigs, and gay with berries, it is time they 
were going home ; for there is a vast deal to 
be done this Christmas Eve, and the sunshine 
is already between the hills, in soft yellow 
gushes, and not on them. 

A vast deal there is to be done j and 
especially if there is any village near. First, 
there is to dress the house with green ; and 
then to go and help to adorn the church. The 



Bob must not be hung up till to-morrow : 
but every door has a branch over it ; and the 
leads of the latticed windows are stuck with 
sprigs ; and every picture-frame, and looking- 
glass, and candlestick is garnished. Any 
"scraps" (very young children) who are too 
small to help, pick up scattered holly-leaves, 
and, being not allowed to go upon the rug, beg 
somebody to throw them into the fire ; whence 
ensues a series of cracklings, and sputtering 
blazes, and lighting up of wide-open eyes. In 
the midst of this hark ! is not that the church 
bell ? The boys go out to listen, and report 
that it is so ; the " Christmas deal " (or dole) 
is about to begin ; so, off go all who are able, 
up to the church. 

It is very cold there, and dim, and dreary, 
in spite of the candles, and the kindness, and 
other good things that are collected there. By 
the time the bell has ceased to clang, there are 
a few gentlemen there, and a number of 
widows, and aged men, and orphan children. 
There are piles of blankets ; and bits of paper, 
which are orders for coals. One gentleman 
has sent a bag of silver money ; and another, 
two or three sheep, cut up ready for cooking ; 
and another, a great pile of loaves. The boys 
run and bring down a ladder to dress the 
pillars ; and scuffle in the galleries ; and ven- 
ture into the pulpit, under pretence of dressing 
the church. When the dole is done and the 



poor people gone, the doors are closed ; and, if 
the boys remain, they must be quiet ; for the 
organist and the singers are going to rehearse 
the anthem that is to be sung to-morrow. If 
the boys are not quiet, they are turned 

There is plenty of bustle in the village. 
The magistrates are in the long room of the 
inn, settling justice business. The inn looks 
as if it were illuminated. The waiters are 
seen to glide across the hall ; and on the steps 
are the old constable, and the new rural 
policeman, and the tax-collector, and the post- 
man. It is so cold that something steaming 
hot will soon be brought for them to drink ; 
and the poor postman will be taken on his 
weak side. Christmas is a trying season to 
him, with his weak head, and his popularity, 
and his Christmas-boxes, and his constant 
liability to be reported. Cold as it is, there 
are women flitting about ; going to or from 
the grocer's shop, and all bringing away the 
same things. The grocers give away, this 
night, to their regular customers, a good 
mould candle each, and a nutmeg. This is 
because the women must be up by candle- 
light to-morrow, to make something that is to 
be spiced with nutmeg. So a good number of 
women pass by with a candle and a nutmeg ; 
and some, with a bottle or pitcher, come up 
the steps, and go to the bar for some rum. 


But the clock strikes supper-time, and away go 
the boys home. 

Somebody wonders at supper whether the 
true oval mince-pie is really meant to be in the 
form of a certain manger ; and its contents to 
signify the gifts, various and rich, brought by 
the Magi to that manger. And while the 
little ones are staring at this news, somebody 
else observes that it was a pretty idea of the 
old pagans, in our island, of dressing up their 
houses with evergreens, that there might be a 
warm retreat for the spirits of the woods in 
times of frost and bitter winter storms. Some 
child peeps timidly up at the biggest branch in 
the room, and fancies what it would be to 
see some sprite sitting under a leaf, or dancing 
along a spray. When supper is done, and 
the youngest are gone to bed, having been told 
not to be surprised if they should hear the 
stars singing in the night, the rest of the party 
turn to the fire, and begin to roast their chest- 
nuts in the shovel, and to heat the elder-wine 
in the old-fashioned saucepan, silvered inside. 
One absent boy, staring at the fire, starts when 
his father offers him a chestnut for his thoughts. 
He hesitates, but his curiosity is vivid, and he 
braves all the consequences of saying what he 
is thinking about. He wonders whether he 
might, just for once, just for this once go 
to the stalls when midnight has struck, and 
see whether the oxen are kneeling. He has 



heard, and perhaps read, that the oxen kneeled, 
on the first Christmas Day, and kept the 
manger warm with their breath ; and that all 
oxen still kneel in their stalls when Christmas 
Day comes in. Father and mother exchange 
a quick glance of agreement to take this 
seriously ; and they explain that there is now 
so much uncertainty, since the New Style of 
reckoning the days of the year was introduced, 
that the oxen cannot be depended on ; and it 
is not worth while to be out of bed at mid- 
night for the chance. Some say the oxen 
kneel punctually when Old Christmas comes 
in ; and if so, they will not do it to-night. 

This is not the quietest night of the year ; 
even if nobody visits the oxen. Soon after all 
are settled to sleep, sounds arise which thrill 
through some who are half-awakened by them, 
and then, remembering something about the 
stars singing, the children rouse themselves, 
and lie, with open eyes and ears, feeling that 
Christmas morning has come. They must 
soon, one would think, give up the star 
theory ; for the music is only two riddles, or a 
fiddle and clarionet ; or, possibly, a fiddle and 
drum, with a voice or two, which can hardly 
be likened to that of the spheres. The voices 
sing, " While shepherds watch'd their flocks 
by night ; " and then marvellously enough 
single out this family of all the families on 
the earth, to bless with the good wishes of the 


season. They certainly are wishing to master 
and mistress and all the young ladies and 
gentlemen, "good morning," and "a merry 
Christmas and a happy New Year." Before 
this celestial mystery is solved, and before the 
distant twang of the fiddle is quite out of 
hearing, the celestial mystery of sleep enwraps 
the other, and lays it to rest until the morrow. 
The boys the elder ones meant to keep 
awake ; first, for the Waits, and afterwards to 
determine for themselves whether the cock 
crows all night on Christmas Eve, to keep all 
hurtful things from walking the earth. When 
the Waits are gone, they just remember that 
any night, between this and Old Christmas, 
will do for the cock, which is said to defy evil 
spirits in this manner for the whole of that 
season. Which the boys are very glad to 
remember ; for they are excessively sleepy ; 
so off they go into the land of dreams. 

It is now past two ; and at three the maids 
must be up. Christmas morning is the one, 
of all the year, when, in the North of England 
especially, families make a point of meeting, 
and it must be at the breakfast-table. In 
every house, far and near, where there is fuel 
and flour, and a few pence to buy currants, 
there are cakes making, which everybody must 
eat of ; cakes of pastry, with currants between 
the layers. The grocer has given the nut- 
meg ; and those who can afford it, add rum, 



and other dainties. The ladies are up be- 
times, to set out the best candlesticks, to 
garnish the table, to make the coffee, and to 
prepare a welcome for all who claim a seat. 
The infant in arms must be there, as seven 
o'clock strikes. Any married brother or sister, 
living within reach, must be there, with the 
whole family train. Long before sunrise, 
there they sit, in the glow of the fire and the 
glitter of candles, chatting and laughing, and 
exchanging good wishes. 

In due time, the church-bell calls the flock 
of worshippers from over hill, and down dale, 
and along commons, and across fields : and 
presently they are seen coming, all in their 
best, the majority probably saying the same 
thing, that, somehow, it seems always to be 
fine on Christmas Day. Then, one may 
reckon up the exceptions he remembers ; and 
another may tell of different sorts of fine 
weather that he has known ; how, on one 
occasion, his daughter gathered thirty-four 
sorts of flowers in their own garden on Christ- 
mas Day ; and the rose-bushes had not lost 
their leaves on Twelfth Day ; and then the 
wise will agree how much they prefer a good 
seasonable frost and sheeted snow like this, to 
April weather in December. 

Service over, the bell silent, and the sexton 
turning the key in the lock, off run the young 
men, out of reach of remonstrance, to shoot, 


until dinner at least, more probably until the 
light fails. They shoot almost anything that 
comes across them, but especially little birds, 
chaffinches, blackbirds, thrushes, any winged 
creature distressed by the cold, or betrayed by 
the smooth and cruel snow. The little chil- 
dren at home are doing better than their elder 
brothers. They are putting out crums of 
bread for the robins, and feeling sorry and 
surprised that robins prefer bread to plum- 
pudding. They would have given the robins 
some of their own pudding, if they had but 
liked it. 

In every house, there is dinner to-day, of 
one sort or another, except where the closed 
shutter shows that the folk are out to dinner. 
The commonest dinner in the poorer houses 
in some parts of the country is a curious 
sort of mutton pie. The meat is cut off a loin 
of mutton, and reduced to mouthfuls, and then 
strewed over with currants or raisins and spice, 
and the whole covered in with a stout crust. 
In some places, the dinner is baked meat and 
potatoes : in too many cottages, there is nothing 
better than a morsel of bacon to flavour the 
bread or potatoes. But it may be safely said 
that there is more and better dining in England 
on Christmas Day than on any other day of the 

In the houses of gentry and farmers, the 
dinner and dessert are a long affair, and soon 



followed by tea, that the sports may begin. 
Everybody knows what these sports are, in 
parlour, hall, and kitchen : singing, dancing, 
cards, blind-man's-buff, and other such games ; 
forfeits, ghost-story telling, snap-dragon ; 
these, with a bountiful supper interposed, last- 
ing till midnight. In scattered houses, among 
the wilds, card-playing goes on briskly. Wher- 
ever there are Wesleyans enough to form a 
congregation, they are collected at a tea-drink- 
ing in their chapel ; and they spend the 
evening in singing hymns. Where there are 
Germans settled, or any leading family which 
has been in Germany, there is a Christmas 
tree lighted up somewhere. Those Christmas 
trees are as prolific as the inexhaustible cedars 
of Lebanon. Wherever one strikes root, a 
great number is sure to spring up under its 

However spent, the evening comes to an 
end. The hymns in the chapel, and the carols 
in the kitchen, and the piano in the parlour 
are all hushed. The ghosts have glided by 
into the night. The forfeits are redeemed. 
The blind-man has recovered his sight, and 
lost it again in sleep. The dust of the dancers 
has subsided. The fires are nearly out, and 
the candles quite so. The reflection that the 
great day is over, would have been too much 
for some little hearts, sighing before they slept, 
but for the thought that to-morrow is Boxing 


Day ; and that Twelfth Night is yet to 

But, first, will come New Year's Eve, with 
its singular inconvenience (in some districts) 
of nothing whatever being carried out of the 
house for twenty-four hours, lest, in throwing 
away anything, you should be throwing away 
some luck for the next year. Not a potato- 
paring, nor a drop of soap-suds or cabbage- 
water, not a cinder, nor a pinch of dust, must 
be removed till New Year's morning. In 
these places, there is one person who must be 
stirring early the darkest man in the neigh- 
bourhood. It is a serious thing there to have 
a swarthy complexion and black hair ; for the 
owner cannot refuse to his acquaintance the 
good luck of his being the first to enter their 
houses on New Year's Day. If he is poor, or 
his time is precious, he is regularly paid for his 
visit. He comes at daybreak, with something 
in his hand, if it is only an orange or an egg, 
or a bit of ribbon, or a twopenny picture. He 
can't stay a minute, he has so many to visit ; 
but he leaves peace of mind behind him. His 
friends begin the year with the advantage of 
having seen a dark man enter their house the 
first in the New Year. 

Such, in its general features, is Christmas, 
throughout the rural districts of Old England. 
Here, the revellers may be living in the midst 
of pastoral levels, all sheeted with snow ; there, 



in deep lanes, or round a village green, with 
ploughed slopes rising on either hand : here, on 
the spurs of mountains, with glittering icicles 
hanging from the grey precipices above them, 
and the accustomed waterfall bound in silence 
by the frost beside their doors ; and there 
again, they may be within hearing of the 
wintry surge, booming along the rocky shore ; 
but the revelry is of much the same character 
everywhere. There may be one old super- 
stition in one place, and another in another ; 
but that which is no superstition is every- 
where ; the hospitality, the mirth, the social 
glow which spreads from heart to heart, which 
thaws the pride and the purse-strings, and 
brightens the eyes and affections. 

What Christmas Is in the 
Company of John Doe 


I HAVE kept (amongst a store of jovial, 
genial, heart-stirring returns of the season) 
some very dismal Christmases. I have kept 
Christmas in Constantinople, at a horrible 
Pera hotel, where I attempted the manufac- 
ture of a plum-pudding from the macaroni- 
soup they served me for dinner, mingled with 
some Zante currants, and a box of figs I had 
brought from Smyrna ; and where I sat, until 
very late at night, endeavouring to persuade 
myself that it was cold and "Christmassy" 
(though it wasn't), drinking Levant wine, and 
listening to the howling of the dogs outside, 
mingled with the clank of a portable fire- 
engine, which some soldiers were carrying to 
one of those extensive conflagrations which 
never happen in Constantinople oftener than 
three times a day. I have kept Christmas on 
board a Boulogne packet, in company with a 
basin, several despair-stricken females, and a 
49 E 


damp steward ; who, to all our inquiries 
whether we should be " in soon," had the one 
unvarying answer of w pretty near " to give. 
I have kept Christmas, when a boy, at a 
French boarding-school, where they gave me 
nothing but lentils and bouilli for dinner, on 
the auspicious day itself. I have kept Christ- 
mas by the bedside of a sick friend, and 
wished him the compliments of the season in 
his physic-bottles (had they contained another 
six months' life, poor soul !). I have kept 
Christmas at rich men's tables, where I have 
been uncomfortable ; and once in a cobbler's 
shop, where I was excessively convivial. I 
have spent one Christmas in prison. Start 
not, urbane reader ! I was not sent there for 
larceny, nor for misdemeanour : but for debt. 
It was Christmas Eve ; and I my name is 
Prupper was taking my walks abroad. I 
walked through the crowded Strand, elate, 
hilarious, benignant, for the feast was prepared, 
and the guests were bidden. Such a turkey I 
had ordered ! Not the prize one with the 
ribbons I mistrusted that ; but a plump, 
tender, white-breasted bird, a king of turkeys. 
It was to be boiled with oyster-sauce ; and the 
rest of the Christmas dinner was to consist of 
that noble sirloin of roast beef, and that im- 
mortal cod's head and shoulders ! I had 
bought the materials for the pudding too, 
some half-hour previously : the plums and the 


currants, the citron and the allspice, the flour 
and the eggs. I was happy. 

Onward, by the bright grocers' shops, 
thronged with pudding-purchasers ! Onward, 
by the bookseller's, though lingering, it may 
be, for a moment, by the gorgeous Christmas 
books, with their bright binding, and brighter 
pictures. Onward, by the pastrycook's ! On- 
ward, elate, hilarious, and benignant, until, 
just as I stopped by a poulterer's shop, to 
admire the finest capon that ever London 
or Christmas saw, a hand was laid on my 
shoulder ! 

" Before our sovereign lady the Queen " 
" by the grace of God, greeting " " that you 
take the body of Thomas Prupper, and him 
safely keep " " and for so doing, this shall be 
your warrant." 

These dread and significant words swam 
before my dazzled eyelids, dancing maniac 
hornpipes on a parchment slip of paper. I 
was to keep Christmas in no other company 
than that of the once celebrated fictitious 
personage, supposed to be the familiar of all 
persons similarly situated JOHN DOE. 

I remembered with horror, that some fort- 
night previously, a lawyer's clerk deposited on 
my shoulder a slip of paper, which he stated 
to be the copy of a writ, and in which her 
Majesty the Queen (mixed up for the nonce 
with John, Lord Campbell) was pleased to 


command me to enter an appearance some- 
where, by such a day, in order to answer the 
plaint of somebody, who said I owed him 
some money. Now, an appearance had not 
been entered, and judgment had gone by de- 
fault, and execution had been obtained against 
me. The Sheriff of Middlesex (who is popu- 
larly, though erroneously, supposed to be inces- 
santly running up and down in his bailiwick) 
had had a writ of fieri facias, vulgarly termed 
a /. fa. against my goods ; but hearing, or 
satisfying himself by adroit espionage, that I 
had no goods, he had made a return of nulla 
bona. Then had he invoked the aid of a more 
subtle and potential instrument, likewise on 
parchment, called a capias ad satisfaciendum, 
abbreviated in legal parlance into ca. sa., 
against my body. This writ he had confided 
to Aminadab, his man j and Aminadab, run- 
ning, as he was in duty bound to do, up and 
down in his section of the bailiwick, had come 
across me, and had made me the captive of 
his bow and spear. He called it, less meta- 
phorically, " nabbing me." 

Mr. Aminadab (tall, aquiline-nosed, olea- 
ginous, somewhat dirty ; clad in a green New- 
market coat, a crimson velvet waistcoat, a 
purple satin neckcloth with gold flowers, two 
watch-guards, and four diamond rings) Mr. 
Aminadab proposed that " something should 
be done." Would I go to Whitecross Street 

5 2 


at once ? or to Blowman's, in Cursitor Street ? 
or would I just step into Peele's Coffee-house 
for a moment ? Mr. Aminadab was perfectly 
polite, and indefatigably suggestive. 

The capture had been made in Fleet Street ; 
so we stepped into Peele's, and while Mr. 
Aminadab sipped the pint of wine which he 
had obligingly suggested I should order, I began 
to look my position in the face. Execution 
taken out for forty-five pounds, nine and nine- 
pence. Ca. sa.y a guinea ; ft. fa., a guinea ; 
capture, a guinea ; those were all the costs as 
yet. Now, some days after I was served with 
the writ, I had paid the plaintiflPs lawyer, on 
account, thirty pounds. In the innocence of 
my heart, I imagined that, by the County 
Court Act, I could not be arrested for the 
balance, it being under twenty pounds. Mr. 
Aminadab laughed with contemptuous pity. 

" We don't do business that way," said he ; 
" we goes in for the whole lot, and then you 
pleads your set-off, you know." 

The long and the short of the matter was, 
that I had eighteen pounds, twelve shillings 
and ninepence, to pay, before my friend in the 
purple neckcloth would relinquish his grasp ; 
and that to satisfy the demand, I had exactly 
the sum of two pounds, two and a half-penny, 
and a gold watch, on which a relation of mine 
would probably advance four pounds more. 
So, I fell to writing letters, Mr. Aminadab 



sipping the wine and playing with one of his 
watch-chains in the meanwhile. 

I wrote to Jones, Brown, and Robinson- 
to Thompson, and to Jackson likewise. I 
wrote to my surly uncle in Pudding Lane. 
Now was the time to put the disinterested 
friendship of Brown to the test ; to avail myself 
of the repeated offers of service from Jones ; 
to ask for the loan of that sixpence which 
Robinson had repeatedly declared was at my 
command as long as he had a shilling. I sealed 
the letters with an unsteady hand, and con- 
sulted Mr. Aminadab as to their despatch. 
That gentleman, by some feat of legerdemain, 
called up from the bowels of the earth, or from 
one of those mysterious localities known as 
" round the corner," two sprites : one, his 
immediate assistant ; seedier, however, and 
not jewelled, who carried a knobby stick which 
he continually gnawed. The other, a horrible 
little man with a white head and a white 
neckcloth, twisted round his neck like a halter. 
His eye was red, and his teeth were gone, and 
the odour of rum compassed him about, like a 
cloak. To these two acolytes my notes were 
confided, and they were directed to bring the 
answers like lightning to Blowman's. To 
Blowman's, in Cursitor Street, Chancery Lane, 
I was bound, and a cab was straightway called 
for my conveyance thereto. For the matter 
of that, the distance was so short, I might 



easily have walked, but I could not divest my- 
self of the idea that everybody in the street 
knew I was a prisoner. 

I was soon within the hospitable doors of 
Mr. Blowman, officer to the Sheriff of Middle- 
sex. His hospitable doors were double, and, 
for more hospitality, heavily barred, locked, 
and chained. These, with the exceptions of 
barred windows, and a species of grating- 
roofed yard outside, like a monster bird-cage, 
were the only visible signs of captivity. Yet 
there was enough stone in the hearts, and iron 
in the souls, of Mr. Blowman's inmates, to 
build a score of lock-up houses. For that you 
may take my word. 

I refused the offer of a private room, and 
was conducted to the coffee-room, where Mr. 
Aminadab left me, for a while, to my own 
reflections ; and to wait for the answers to my 

They came and one friend into the bar- 
gain. Jones had gone to Hammersmith, and 
wouldn't be back till next July. Brown had 
been disappointed in the City. Robinson's 
money was all locked up. Thompson expected 
to be locked up himself. Jackson was brief, 
but explicit : he said he " would rather not." 

My friend brought me a carpet-bag, with 
what clothes I wanted in it. He advised me, 
moreover, to go to Whitecross Street at once, 
for a sojourn at Mr. Blowman's domicile would 



cost me something like a guinea per diem. 
So, summoning Mr. Aminadab, who had 
obligingly waited to see if I could raise the 
money or not, I announced my intention of 
being conveyed to gaol at once. I paid half- 
a-guinea for the accommodation I had had at 
Mr. Blowman's ; I made a pecuniary acknow- 
ledgment of Mr. Aminadab's politeness ; and 
I did not fail to remember the old man in the 
white halter and the spirituous mantle. Then, 
when I had also remembered a red-headed 
little Jew boy who acted as Cerberus to this 
Hades, and appeared to be continually washing 
his hands (though they never seemed one whit 
the cleaner for the operation), another cab 
was called, and off I went to Whitecross 
Street, with a heart considerably heavier than 
a paving-stone. 

I had already been three hours in captivity, 
and it was getting on for eight o'clock. The 
cab was proceeding along Holborn, and I 
thought, involuntarily, of Mr. Samuel Hall, 
black and grimy, making his progress through 
the same thoroughfare, by the Oxford Road, 
and so on to Tyburn, bowing to the crowd 
and cursing the Ordinary. The foot-pave- 
ment on either side was thronged with people 
at their Christmas marketing, or, at least, on 
some Christmas business so it seemed to me. 
Goose Clubs were being held at the public- 
houses " sweeps " for sucking-pigs, plum- 



puddings, and bottles of gin. Some ladies and 
gentlemen had begun their Christmas rather 
too early, and were meandering unsteadily 
over the flagstones. Fiddlers were in great 
request, being sought for in small beer-shops, 
and borne off bodily from bars, to assist at 
Christmas Eve merry-makings. An immense 
deal of hand-shaking was going on, and I was 
very much afraid, a good deal more " stand- 
ing " than was consistent with the strict rules 
of temperance. Everybody kept saying that 
it was " only once a year," and made that an 
apology (so prone are mankind to the use of 
trivial excuses !) for their sins against Father 
Mathew. Loud laughter rang through the 
frosty air. Pleasant jokes, innocent " chaff," 
passed ; grocers' young men toiled lustily, 
wiping their hot faces ever and anon ; butchers 
took no rest ; prize beef melted away from 
very richness before my eyes ; and in the 
midst of all the bustle and jollity, the 
crowding, laughing, drinking, and shouting, 
I was still on my unvarying way to White- 
cross Street. 

There was a man resting a child's coffin on 
a railing, and chattering with a pot-boy, with 
whom he shared a pot of porter, " with the 
sharp edge taken off." There are heavy 
hearts heavier perchance than yours, in 
London this Christmas Eve, my friend Prup- 
per, thought I. To-morrow's dawn will 



bring sorrow and faint-heartedness to many 
thousands to oceans of humanity, of which 
you are but a single 'drop. 

The cab had conveyed me through Smith- 
field Market, and now rumbled up Barbican. 
My companion, the gentleman with the crab- 
stick (to whose care Mr. Aminadab had 
consigned me) beguiled the time with pleasant 
and instructive conversation. He told me 
that he had " nabbed a many parties." That 
he had captured a Doctor of Divinity going 
to a Christmas, a bridegroom starting for the 
honeymoon, a Colonel of Hussars in full fig 
for her Majesty's drawing-room. That he 
had the honour once of " nabbing " the eldest 
son of a peer of the realm, who, however, 
escaped from him through a second-floor 
window, and over the tiles. That he was 
once commissioned to " nab " the celebrated 
Mr. Wix, of the Theatres Royal. That Mr. 
Wix, being in the act of playing the Baron 
Spolaccio, in the famous tragedy of " Love, 
Ruin, and Revenge," he, Crabstick, permitted 
him, in deference to the interests of the drama, 
to play the part out, stationing an assistant at 
each wing to prevent escape. That the de- 
lusive Wix " bilked " him, by going down a 
trap. That he, Crabstick, captured him, not- 
withstanding, under the stage, though opposed 
by the gigantic Wix himself, two stage 
carpenters, a demon, and the Third Citizen. 


That Wix rushed on the stage and explained 
his position to the audience, whereupon the 
gallery (Wix being an especial favourite of 
theirs) expressed a strong desire to have his 
(Crabstick's) blood ; and, failing to obtain 
that, tore up the benches ; in the midst of 
which operation the recalcitrant Wix was 
removed. With these and similar anecdotes 
of the nobility, gentry, and the public in 
general, he was kind enough to regale me, 
until the cab stopped. I alighted in a narrow, 
dirty street ; was hurried up a steep flight of 
steps ; a heavy door clanged behind me ; and 
Crabstick, pocketing his small gratuity, wished 
me a good night and a merry Christmas. A 
merry Christmas : ugh ! 

That night I slept in a dreadful place, 
called the Reception ward, on an iron bed- 
stead, in a room with a stone floor. I was 
alone, and horribly miserable. I heard the 
Waits playing in the distance, and dreamed I 
was at a Christmas party. 

Christmas morning in Whitecross Street 
Prison ! A turnkey conducted me to the 
" Middlesex side " a long, dreary yard on 
either side of which were doors leading into 
wards, or coffee-rooms, on the ground floor, 
and, by stone staircases, to sleeping apartments 
above. It was all very cold, very dismal, very 
gloomy. I entered the ward allotted to me, 
Number Seven, left. It was a long room, 



with barred windows, cross-tables and benches, 
with an aisle between ; a large fire at the 
farther end ; " Dum spiro, spero," painted 
above the mantel-piece. Twenty or thirty 
prisoners and their friends were sitting at the 
tables, smoking pipes, drinking beer, or reading 
newspapers. But for the unmistakable jail- 
bird look about the majority of the guests, the 
unshorn faces, the slipshod feet, the barred 
windows, and the stone floor, I might have 
fancied myself in a large tap-room. 

There was holly and mistletoe round the 
gas-pipes ; but how woful and forlorn they 
looked ! There was roast beef and plum- 
pudding preparing at the fire-place ; but they 
had neither the odour nor the appearance of 
free beef and pudding. I was thinking of the 
cosy room, the snug fire, the well-drawn 
curtains, the glittering table, the happy faces, 
when the turnkey introduced me to the steward 
of the ward (an officer appointed by the 
prisoners, and a prisoner himself) who " tables 
you off"," i. e. who allotted me a seat at one 
of the cross-tables, which was henceforward 
mine for all purposes of eating, drinking, 
writing, or smoking ; in consideration of a 
payment on my part of one guinea sterling. 
This sum made me also free of the ward, and 
entitled to have my boots cleaned, my bed 
made, and my meals cooked. Supposing that 
I had not possessed a guinea (which was likely 


enough), I should have asked for time, which 
would have been granted me ; but, at the 
expiration of three days, omission of payment 
would have constituted me a defaulter ; in 
which case, the best thing I could have done 
would have been to declare pauperism, and 
remove to the poor side of the prison. Here, 
I should have been entitled to my "sixpences," 
amounting, in the aggregate, to the sum of 
three shillings and sixpence a week towards 
my maintenance. 

The steward, a fat man in a green " wide- 
awake " hat, who was incarcerated on remand 
for the damages in an action for breach of 
promise of marriage, introduced me to the 
cook (who was going up next week to the 
Insolvent Court, having filed his schedule as 
a beer-shop keeper). He told me, that if I 
chose to purchase anything at a species of 
everything shop in the yard, the cook would 
dress it ; or, if I did not choose to be at the 
trouble of providing myself, I might break- 
fast, dine, and sup at his, the steward's, table, 
" for a consideration," as Mr. Trapbois has it. 
I acceded to the latter proposition, receiving 
the intelligence that turkey and oyster-sauce 
were to be ready at two precisely, with melan- 
choly indifference. Turkey had no charms 
for me now. 

I sauntered forth into the yard, and passed 
fifty or sixty fellow-unfortunates, sauntering 


as listlessly as myself. Strolling about, I came 
to a large grating, somewhat similar to Mr. 
Blowman's bird-cage, in which was a heavy 
gate called the " lock," and which communi- 
cated with the corridors leading to the exterior 
of the prison. Here sat, calmly surveying his 
caged birds within, a turnkey not a repulsive, 
gruff-voiced monster, with a red neckerchief 
and top boots, and a bunch of keys, as turn- 
keys are popularly supposed to be but a 
pleasant, jovial man enough, in sleek black. 
He had a little lodge behind, where a bright 
fire burned, and where Mrs. Turnkey and 
the little Turnkeys lived. (I found a direful 
resemblance between the name of his office, 
and that of the Christmas bird). His Christ- 
mas dinner hung to the iron bars above him, 
in the shape of a magnificent piece of beef. 
Happy turnkey, to be able to eat it on the 
outer side of that dreadful grating ! In 
another part of the yard hung a large black 
board, inscribed in half-effaced characters, 
with the enumerations of divers donations, 
made in former times by charitable persons, 
for the benefit in perpetuity of poor prisoners. 
To-day, so much beef and so much strong beer 
v/as allotted to each prisoner. 

But what were beef and beer, what was 

unlimited tobacco, or even the plum-pudding, 

when made from prison plums, boiled in 

a prison copper, and eaten in a prison dining- 



room ? What though surreptitious gin were 
carried in, in bladders, beneath the under- 
garments of the fairer portion of creation ; 
what though brandy were smuggled into the 
wards, disguised as black draughts, or extract 
of sarsaparilla ? A pretty Christmas market I 
had brought my pigs to ! 

Chapel was over (I had come down too late 
from the " Reception " to attend it) ; and the 
congregation (a lamentably small one) dispersed 
in the yard and wards. I entered my own 
ward, to change (if anything could change) the 
dreary scene. 

Smoking and cooking appeared to be the 
chief employments and recreations of the 
prisoners. An insolvent clergyman in rusty 
black was gravely rolling out puff-paste on a 
pie-board ; and a man in his shirt-sleeves, 
covering a veal cutlet with egg and breadcrum, 
was an officer of dragoons ! 

I found no lack of persons willing to enter 
into conversation with me. I talked, full 
twenty minutes, with a seedy captive, with a 
white head, and a coat buttoned and pinned 
up to the chin. 

Whitecross Street, he told me (or Burden's 
Hotel, as in the prison slang he called it), was 
the only place where any " life " was to be 
seen. The Fleet was pulled down ; the 
Marshalsea had gone the way of all brick-and- 
mortar ; the Queen's Prison, the old " Bench," 



was managed on a strict system of classification 
and general discipline ; and Horsemonger 
Lane was but rarely tenanted by debtors ; but 
in favoured Whitecross Street, the good old 
features of imprisonment for debt yet flourished. 
Good dinners were still occasionally given ; 
" fives " and football were yet played j and, 
from time to time, obnoxious attorneys, or 
importunate process-servers "rats" as they 
were called were pumped upon, floured, and 
bonneted. Yet, even Whitecross Street, he 
said with a sigh, was falling off. The Small 
Debts Act and those revolutionary County 
Courts would be too many for it soon. 

That tall, robust, bushy- whiskered man (he 
said) in the magnificently-flowered dressing- 
gown, the crimson Turkish smoking-cap, the 
velvet slippers, and the ostentatiously-displayed 
gold guard-chain, was a " mace-man : " an 
individual who lived on his wits, and on the 
want of wit in others. He had had many 
names, varying from Plantagenet and De 
Courcy, to " Edmonston and Co.," or plain 
Smith or Johnson. He was a real gentleman 
once upon a time a very long time ago. 
Since then, he had done a little on the turf, 
and a great deal in French hazard, roulette, 
and rouge et noir. He had cheated bill- 
discounters, and discounted bills himself. He 
had been a picture-dealer, and a wine-merchant, 
and one of those mysterious individuals called 


a " commission agent." He had done a little 
on the Stock Exchange, and a little billiard- 
marking, and a little skittle-sharping, and a 
little thimblerigging. He was not particular. 
Bills, however, were his passion. He was 
under a cloud just now, in consequence of 
some bill-dealing transaction, which the Com- 
missioner of Insolvency had broadly hinted to 
be like a bill-stealing one. However, he had 
wonderful elasticity, and it was to be hoped 
would soon get over his little difficulties. 
Meanwhile, he dined sumptuously, and smoked 
cigars of price ; occasionally condescending to 
toss half-crowns in a hat with any of the other 
" nobs " incarcerated. 

That cap, and the battered, worn-out, sickly 
frame beneath (if I would have the goodness 
to notice them), were all that were left of a 
spruce, rosy-cheeked, glittering young ensign 
of infantry. He was brought up by an old 
maiden aunt, who spent her savings to buy 
him a commission in the army. He went 
from Slowchester Grammar School, to Fast- 
chester Barracks. He was to live on his pay. 
He gambled a year's pay away in an evening. 
He made thousand guinea bets, and lost them. 
So the old denouement of the old story came 
round as usual. The silver dressing-case, got 
on credit pawned for ready money ; the 
credit-horses sold ; more credit-horses bought ; 
importunate creditors in the barrack-yard ; a. 

6 S F 


letter from the colonel ; sale of his commission ; 
himself sold up ; then Mr. Aminadab, Mr. 
Blowman, Burdon's Hotel, Insolvent Court, a 
year's remand ; and an after life embittered by 
the consciousness of wasted time and talents, 
and wantonly-neglected opportunities. 

My informant pointed out many duplicates 
of the gentleman in the dressing-gown. Also, 
divers Government clerks, who had attempted 
to imitate the nobs in a small way, and had 
only succeeded to the extent of sharing the 
same prison ; a mild grey-headed old gentle- 
man who always managed to get committed 
for contempt of court ; and the one inevitable 
baronet of a debtor's prison, who is traditionally 
supposed to have eight thousand a year, and to 
stop in prison because he likes it though, to 
say the truth, this baronet looked, to me, as if 
he didn't like it at all. 

I was sick of all these, and of everything 
else in Whitecross Street, before nine o'clock, 
when I was at liberty to retire to my cold 
ward. So ended my Christmas Day my first, 
and, I hope and believe, my last Christmas Day 
in prison. 

Next morning my welcome friend arrived 
and set me free. I paid the gate-fees, and I 
gave the turnkeys a crown, and I gave the 
prisoners unbounded beer. I kept New Year's 
Day in company with a pretty cousin with 
glossy black hair, who was to have dined with 


me on Christmas Day, and who took such pity 
on me that she shortly became Mrs. Prupper. 
Our eldest boy was born, by a curious coinci- 
dence, next Christmas Day which I kept very 
jovially, with the doctor, after it was all over, 
and we didnt christen him Whitecross. 

The Orphan's Dream of 


IT was Christmas Eve and lonely, 

By a garret window high, 
Where the city chimneys barely 

Spared a hand's-breadth of the sky, 
Sat a child, in age, but weeping, 

With a face so small and thin, 
That it seem'd too scant a record 

To have eight years traced therein. 

Oh, grief looks most distorted 

When his hideous shadow lies 
On the clear and sunny life-stream 

That doth fill a child's blue eyes ! 
But her eye was dull and sunken, 

And the whiten'd cheek was gaunt, 
And the blue veins on the forehead 

Were the pencilling of Want. 

And she wept for years like jewels, 
Till the last year's bitter gall, 

Like the acid of the story, 
In itself had melted all ; 


But the Christmas-time returned, 
As an old friend, for whose eye 

She would take down all the pictures 
Sketched by faithful Memory, 

Of those brilliant Christmas seasons, 

When the joyous laugh went round ; 
When sweet words of love and kindness 

Were no unfamiliar sound ; 
When, lit by the log's red lustre, 

She her mother's face could see, 
And she rock'd the cradle, sitting 

On her own twin-brother's knee : 

Of her father's pleasant stories ; 

Of the riddles and the rhymes, 
All the kisses and the presents 

That had mark'd those Christmas-times. 
'Twas as well that there was no one 

(For it were a mocking strain) 
To wish her a merry Christmas, 

For that could not come again. 

How there came a time of struggling, 

When, in spite of love and faith, 
Grinding Poverty would only 

In the end give place to Death ; 
How her mother grew heart-broken, 

When her toil-worn father died, 
Took her baby in her bosom, 

And was buried by his side : 


How she clung unto her brother 

As the last spar from the wreck, 
But stern Death had come between them 

While her arms were round his neck. 
There were now no loving voices ; 

And, if few hands offered bread, 
There were none to rest in blessing 

On the little homeless head. 

Or, if any gave her shelter, 

It was less of joy than fear ; 
For they welcomed Crime more warmly 

To the self-same room with her. 
But, at length they all grew weary 

Of their sick and useless guest ; 
She must try a workhouse welcome 

For the helpless and distressed. 

But she prayed ; and the Unsleeping 

In His ear that whisper caught ; 
So He sent down Sleep, who gave her 

Such a respite as she sought ; 
Drew the fair head to her bosom, 

Pressed the wetted eyelids close, 
And, with softly-falling kisses, 

Lulled her gently to repose. 

Then she dreamed the angels, sweeping 
With their wings the sky aside, 

Raised her swiftly to the country 
Where the blessed ones abide : 



To a bower all flushed with beauty, 

By a shadowy arcade, 
Where a mellowness like moonlight 

By the Tree of Life was made : 

Where the rich fruit sparkled, star-like, 

And pure flowers of fadeless dye 
Poured their fragrance on the waters 

That in crystal beds went by : 
Where bright hills of pearl and amber 

Closed the fair green valleys round, 
And, with rainbow light, but lasting, 

Were their glistening summits crown'd 

Then, that distant-burning glory, 

'Mid a gorgeousness of light ! 
The long vista of Archangels 

Could scarce chasten to her sight. 
There sat One : and her heart told her 

'Twas the same, who, for our sin, 
Was once born a little baby 

" In the stable of an inn." 

There was music oh, such music ! - 

They were trying the old strains 
That a certain group of shepherds 

Heard on old Judea's plains ; 
But, when that divinest chorus 

To a softened trembling fell, 
Love's true ear discerned the voices 

That on earth she loved so well. 


At a tiny grotto's entrance 

A fair child her eyes behold, 
With his ivory shoulders hidden 

'Neath his curls of living gold ; 
And he asks them, " Is she coming ? " 

But ere any one can speak, 
The white arms of her twin brother 

Are once more about her neck. 

Then they all come round her greeting ; 

But she might have well denied 
That her beautiful young sister 

Is the poor pale child that died ; 
And the careful look hath vanish'd 

From her father's tearless face, 
And she does not know her mother 

Till she feels the old embrace. 

Oh, from that ecstatic dreaming 

Must she ever wake again, 
To the cold and cheerless contrast, 

To a life of lonely pain ? 
But her Maker's sternest servant 

To her side on tiptoe stept ; 
Told his message in a whisper, 

And she stirr'd not as she slept ! 

Now the Christmas morn was breaking 

With a dim, uncertain hue, 
And the chilling breeze of morning 

Came the broken window through ; 


And the hair upon her forehead, 
Was it lifted by the blast, 

Or the brushing wings of Seraphs, 
With their burden as they pass'd ? 

All the festive bells were chiming 

To the myriad hearts below ; 
But that deep sleep still hung heavy 

On the sleeper's thoughtful brow. 
To her quiet face the dream-light 

Had a lingering glory given j 
But the child herself was keeping 

Her Christmas Day in Heaven ! 


What Christmas Is after a 
Long Absence 


SIXTEEN years have passed since, a turbu- 
lent, discontented boy, I left England for 
Australia. My first serious study of geo- 
graphy began when I twirled about a great 
globe to find South Australia, which was then 
the fashionable colony. My guardians I 
was an orphan were delighted to get rid 
of so troublesome a personage ; so, very soon 
I was the proud possessor of a town and 
country lot of land in the model colony of 
South Australia. 

My voyage in a capital ship, with the best 
fare every day, and no one to say " Charles, 
you have had enough wine," was pleasant 
enough : very different from the case of some 
of my emigrating companions fathers and 
mothers with families, who had left good 
homes, good incomes, snug estates, and re- 
spectable professions, excited by speeches at 
public meetings, or by glowing pamphlets, 



descriptive of the charms of a colonial life in 
a model colony. I learned to smoke, drink 
grog, and hit a bottle swung from the yard- 
arm with pistol or rifle. We had several 
very agreeable scamps on board ; ex-cornets 
and lieutenants, ex-government clerks, spoiled 
barristers and surgeons, plucked Oxonians, 
empty, good-looking, well-dressed fellows, who 
had smoked meerschaums, drunk Champagne, 
Hock, and Burgundy, fought duels, ridden 
steeple-chases, and contracted debts in every 
capital in Europe. These distinguished gentle- 
men kindly took me under their patronage, 
smoked my cigars, allowed me to stand treat 
for Champagne, taught me, at some slight 
expense, the arts of short whist, ecarte y and 
unlimited loo ; and to treat with becoming 
hauteur any advances on the part of the inter- 
mediate passengers. 

By the end of one hundred days of our 
voyage I was remarkably altered, but whether 
improved may be a question ; as the leading 
principles I had imbibed were to the effect 
that work of any kind was low, and that debts 
were gentlemanly. My preconceived notions 
of a model colony, with all the elements of 
civilisation, as promised in London, were rather 
upset, by observing, on landing, just within the 
wash of high-water, on the sandy beach, heaps 
of furniture, a grand piano or two, and chests 
of drawers in great numbers ; and I especially 



remember a huge iron-banded oak plate-chest, 
half full of sand, and empty. The cause of 
this wholesale abandonment was soon made 
plain to me, in the shape of a charge of ten 
pounds for conveying my trunks in a bullock 
waggon, of which they formed less than half 
the load, seven miles from the port to the 
city of Adelaide ; the said city, which looked 
so grand in water colours in the Emigration 
Rooms in London, being at that time a 
picturesque and uncomfortable collection of 
tents, mud huts, and wooden cottages, curiously 
warped, rather larger than a Newfoundland 
dog's kennel, but letting for the rent of a 
mansion in any agricultural county of England. 
It is not my intention, now, to tell the tale 
of the fall of the Model Colony and colonists 
of South Australia, and the rise of the Copper 
Mines, which I did not stay to see. When 
a general smash was taking place on all sides, 
I accepted the offer of a rough diamond of an 
overlander, who had come across from the 
old colony with a lot of cattle and horses to 
sell to the Adelaideans. He had taken a 
fancy to me in consequence of the skill I had 
displayed in bleeding a valuable colt at a 
critical moment ; one of the few useful things 
I had learned in England ; and, when my 
dashing companions were drinking themselves 
into delirium tremens, enlisting in the police, 
accepting situations as shepherds, sponging for 


dinners on the once-despised "snobs" and 
imploring the captains of ships to let them 
work their way home before the mast, he 
offered to take me with him to his station in 
the interior, and "make a man of me." I 
turned my back on South Australia, and 
abandoned my country lot, on an inaccessible 
hill, to nature, and sold my town lot for five 
pounds. I began to perceive that work was 
the only means of getting on in a colony. 

Accordingly, into the far Bush I went, and 
on the plains of a new-settled district, all 
solitary , constantly in danger from savage 
blacks ; constantly occupied in looking after 
the wild shepherds and stockmen (herdsmen) 
of my overland friend ; passing days on 
horseback at one period ; at another, com- 
pelled to give my whole attention to the 
details of a great establishment, I rubbed off 
my old skin. 

My fashionable affectations died away ; my 
life became a reality, dependent on my own 
exertions. It was then that my heart began 
to change ; it was then that I began to think 
tenderly of the brothers and sisters I had left 
behind, and with whom I had communicated 
so little in the days of my selfishness. Rarely 
oftener than twice in a year could I find 
means to forward letters ; but the pen, once 
so hateful to me, became now, in hours of 
leisure, my great resource. Often and often 



have I sat in my hut at midnight, filling pages 
with my thoughts, my feelings, my regrets. 
The fire burning before my hut, where my 
men were sleeping, reminded me that I was 
not alone in the great pastoral desert, which 
sloping away from my station, rolled for 
hundreds of miles. Every sound was redolent 
of the romance of the strange land to which I 
had transplanted myself. The howl of the 
dingo prowling round my sheep-folds ; the 
defying bark of my watchful dogs ; the cry 
of the strange night-birds ; and sometimes, 
echoing from the rocky ranges, the wild 
mountainous songs of the fierce aborigines, as 
they danced their corrobberies, and acted 
dramas representing the slaughter of the white 
man, and the plunder of his cattle. When 
such noises met my ear, I looked up to the 
rack where my arms lay, ready loaded, and 
out to where a faithful sentinel, the rebel 
O'Donohue, or the poacher, Giles Brown, 
with musket on shoulder paced up and down, 
ready to die, but not to surrender. In this 
great desert, the petty cares, mean tricks of 
land jobbing, all the little contrivances for 
keeping up appearances no longer needed, 
were forgotten. My few books were not 
merely read ; they were learned by heart. If 
in the morning I tired horses in galloping my 
rounds, and settled strife among my men with 
rude words, and even blows ; in the evening, 


sitting apart, I was lost in the wanderings of 
Abraham, the trials of Job, or the Psalms of 

I followed St. John into the wilderness, not 
unlike that before my eyes, and listened far 
from cities to the Sermon on the Mount. At 
other times, as I paced along the open forests, 
I made the woods resound with the speeches 
of Homer's heroes, or the outbursts of Shak- 
speare's characters outbursts that came home 
to me : for, in those lone regions, I was chief, 
warrior, and almost priest ; for, when there 
was a death, I read the funeral service. And 
thus I educated myself. 

While thus recalling friends neglected, and 
opportunities misused, and pleasant scenes of 
Eastern county life, I most loved to dwell 
upon the Christmas-time of dear old England. 

In our hot summer of Australian December, 
when the great river that divided and bounded 
my pastures drivelled to a string of pools, and 
my cattle were panting around at the quiet 
hour of the evening, when the stars, shining 
with a brilliancy unknown in northern climes, 
realised the idea of the blessed night when the 
star of Bethlehem startled and guided the 
kings of the Eastern world on their pious 
pilgrimage, my thoughts travelled across the 
sea to England. I did not feel the sultry 
heat, or hear the cry of the night-bird or 
the howl of the dingo. I was across the sea, 



among the Christmas revellers. I saw the 
gay flushed faces of my kindred and friends 
shining round the Christmas table ; the grace 
was said, the toast went round. I heard my 
own name mentioned, and the gay faces grew 
sad. Then I awoke from my dream and 
found myself alone, and wept. But in a life 
of action there is no time for useless grieving, 
though time enough for reflection and resolu- 
tion. Therefore, after visions like these, I 
resolved that the time should come when, on 
a Christmas Day, the toast " to absent friends " 
should be answered by the Australian himself. 

The time did come this very year of 
the half-century. Earnest labour and sober 
economy had prospered with me. The rich 
district in which I was one of the earliest 
pioneers, had become settled and pacified, 
as far as the river ran ; the wild Myals had 
grown into the tame, blanket-clothed de- 
pendents of the settlers. Thousands of fine- 
woolled flocks upon the hills, and cattle upon 
the rich flats, were mine ; the bark hut had 
changed into a verandahed cottage, where 
books and pictures formed no insignificant 
part of the furniture ; neighbours were within 
a ride ; the voices of children often floated 
sweetly along the waters of the river. 

Then said I to myself, I can return now. 
Not to remain ; for the land I have conquered 
from the wilderness shall be my home for 


life : but I will return, to press the hands 
that have longed for many years to press 
mine ; to kiss away the tears that dear sisters 
shed when they think of me, once almost an 
outcast ; to take upon my knees those little 
ones who have been taught to pray for their 
" uncle in a far land across the broad, deep 
sea." Perhaps I had a thought of winning 
some rosy English face and true English heart 
to share my pastoral home. 

I did return, and trod again the shores of 
my mother country. My boyish expectations 
had not been realised, but better hopes had. 
I was not returning laden with treasures, to 
rival the objects of my foolish youthful vanity; 
but I was returning thankful, grateful, con- 
tented, independent, to look round once more 
on my native land, and then return to settle 
in the land of my adoption. 

It was mid-winter when I landed at a small 
fishing village in the extreme west of England ; 
for my impatience made me take advantage, 
during a calm in the Channel, of the first 
fisher's boat that boarded us. 

The nearer we approached the shore, the 
more impatient I grew to land. I insisted on 
giving my help to one of the heavy oars ; and 
no sooner had we touched the ground, than, 
throwing myself into the water, I waded 
on shore. Oh, easy-going men of the great 
world, there are some pleasures you can never 
81 G 


taste ; and among them is the enthusiasm, 
the heartfelt, awe-stricken admiration of the 
dweller among pastoral plains when he finds 
himself once more at home among the gardens 
of England ! 

Garden is the only word to express the 
appearance of England, especially the west, 
where the bright green myrtle lingers through 
the winter, and the road-side near every town 
is bordered with charming cottages. At 
every mile I found some new object of 
admiration, above all, the healthful fresh 
cheeks of the people ; especially the sturdy, 
yet delicate-complexioned lasses tripping away, 
basket in hand, from the markets in numbers, 
startling to one who had lived long where the 
arrival of one fair white face was an event. 

The approach to the first great town was 
signalised by tokens less pleasing nay, abso- 
lutely painful ; beggars, as I passed, stood 
in their rags and whined for alms ; and others, 
not less pitiful in appearance, did not beg, but 
looked so wan and miserable, that it made my 
heart bleed. I gave to all, so that the man 
who drove me stared. He stared still more 
when I told him that I came from a country 
where there were no poor, save the drunken 
and the idle. 

Entering a great town, the whirl, the com- 
motion of passers on foot, on horseback, and in 
vehicles of all kinds, made me giddy ; it was 


like a sort of nightmare. The signs of wealth, 
the conveniences provided for every imaginable 
want, were very strange to me, fresh from a 
country where able-bodied labour was always 
in demand, while a man thought himself 
equal to the longest journey, through an un- 
trodden country, with a blanket and a tin-pot 
for all his furniture, and all his cooking 

When I called in the landlord of the inn to 
consult about getting on to Yorkshire in two 
days, as I wished to be with my friends as soon 
as possible, he said, " If you stay and rest 
to-night, you can get there by the railroad to- 
morrow morning, in good time to eat your 
Christmas dinner." I had never thought of 
that, and had only a vague idea what a rail- 
road was like. 

I reached the starting-place next morning, 
just in time to take my seat in a departing 
train. I started when, with a fearful sound of 
labouring machinery, we moved : then whirled 
away. I was ashamed of my fears ; yet there 
were many in that train to whom a sea voyage 
would have only been less terrible than the 
solitary land journeys on horseback through 
the Bush of Australia, which were to me a 
mere matter of course. Without accident, I 
reached the station near York, where I had 
to take a conveyance to reach by a cross 
country road the house where I knew that 



one of my brothers, farming a few hundred 
acres of his own land, assembled as many of 
our family as possible at Christmas-time. 

The little inn was able to supply a gig, driven 
by a decayed post-boy. Plunging at once 
into questioning conversation, I found an old 
acquaintance in the driver, without revealing 
who I was. Not many years older than my- 
self, soured, disappointed, racked in health, 
he took a different view of life to anything I 
had yet heard. All along my road through 
England I had been struck by the prosperous 
condition of the well-to-do people I had met 
in first-class carriages. His occupation, his 
glory, was departed ; he was obliged to do 
anything, and wear anything, instead of his 
once smart costume, and once pleasant occu- 
pation instead of his gay jacket, and rapid 
ride, and handsome presents from travellers, 
and good dinners from landlords. In doleful 
spirits, he had a score of tales to tell of 
others worse off than himself of landlords of 
posting-houses in the workhouse, and smart 
four-in-hand coachmen begging their bread 
of farmers sunk down to labourers j and other 
doleful stories of the fate of those who were 
not strong enough for the race of life in 
England. Then I began to see there are 
two sides to the life that looked so brilliant 
out of the plate-glass windows of a first-class 



The luxuries and comforts which taxes and 
turnpikes buy, are well worth the cost to those 
who can pay them ; those who cannot, will do 
better to make shift in a colony. Thus think- 
ing and talking, as I approached the place 
where, unexpected, I was to appear before a 
gathering of my relations, my flow of spirits 
died away. The proud consciousness of having 
conquered fortune, the beauty of the winter 
scenery (for winter, with its hoar frost shading 
the trees and foliage, has strange dazzling 
beauty to the eyes of those who have been 
accustomed to the one perpetual green-brown 
of semi-tropical Australia) had filled me full 
to overflowing with bounding joyousness. 
Gaily I answered back to the "Good-night, 
master," of the passing peasantry, and vigor- 
ously puffed at my favourite pipe, in clouds 
that rivalled and rolled along with the clouds 
of mist that rose from the sweating horses. 
But the decayed postilion's stories of misery, 
in which he seemed to revel, damped me. My 
pipe went out, and my chin sunk despond- 
ingly on my breast. At length I asked, " Did 
he know the Barnards ? " " Oh, yes, he knew 
them all." Mr. John had been very lucky 
with the railroad through one of his farms. 
He had ridden a pair at Miss Margaret's 
wedding, and driven a mourning-coach at 
Miss Mary's funeral. The mare in the gig 
had belonged to Mr. John, and had been a 



rare good hunter. Mr. Robert had doctored 
him for his rheumatics. " Did he know any 
more ? " " Oh, yes ; there was Master Charles ; 
he went abroad somewhere to furren parts. 
Some people say he's dead, got killed, or 
hung, or something ; and some say he's made 
a power of money. He was a wild slip of a 
lad. Many a time he's been out in the roads 
with some one I know very well, snaring 
hares and smoking of pheasants. There's a 
mark on my forehead now, where I fell, when 
he put a furze bush under the tail of a colt I 
was breaking. He was a droll chap, surely." 
There was scarcely a kind feeling in the poor 
man's breast. The loss of his occupation, 
poverty, and drink, had sadly changed the fine 
country lad, barely ten years older than my- 
self, whom I had left behind in England. So, 
turning, I said, "Well, Joe, you don't seem 
to remember me ; I am Charles Barnard." 
" Lord, sir ! " he answered, in a whining tone, 
" I beg your pardon. You are a great gentle- 
man j I always thought you would be. So 
you are going to dine with Mr. John ? Well, 
sir, I hope you won't forget a Christmas-box, 
for old acquaintance sake ? " I was repelled, 
and wished myself back in Australia ; my 
mind began to misgive me as to the wisdom of 
my unexpected visit. 

It was bright moonlight when we drove 
into the village. I had a mile to walk ; I 


would not let chattering Joe drive me ; so left 
him happy over a hot supper, with no stinted 
allowance of ale. I walked on quickly, until 
approaching the old house the mansion- 
house, once, but the estates had long been 
divided from it I paused. My courage 
failed as I passed through the gate ; their 
clang disturbed the dogs they began to bark 
fiercely. I was a stranger ; the dogs that 
knew me were all dead. Twice I paced 
round, with difficulty repressing my emotion, 
before I could find courage to approach the 
door. The peals of laughter, the gay music 
that rang out from time to time, the lights 
flying from window to window of the upper 
rooms, filled me with pleasing-painful feelings, 
long unknown. There was folly in my mys- 
terious arrival ; but romance is part of a life 
of solitude. Unreasonably, I was for a moment 
vexed that they could be so merry ; but next 
moment better thoughts prevailed. I stepped 
to the well-remembered door, and rang a great 
peal ; the maid opened it to me without 
question, for many guests were expected. As 
I stooped to lay aside my cloak and cap, a 
lovely child in white ran down the stairs, 
threw her arms round my neck, and, with a 
hearty kiss, cried, " I have caught you under 
the mistletoe, cousin Alfred." Then she 
started from me, and loosening her hold, and 
staring at me with large timid brown eyes, 



said, " Who are you ? you are not a new 
uncle, are you ? " Oh, how my heart was 
relieved ! the child saw a likeness ; I should 
not be disowned. All my plans, all my pre- 
parations were forgotten ; I was in the midst 
of them ; and after fifteen years I saw again 
the Christmas fire, the Christmas table, the 
Christmas faces, that I had dreamed of so 
often ! To describe that night is impossible. 
Long after midnight, we sat ; the children 
unwillingly left my knees for bed ; my 
brothers gazed and wondered ; my sisters 
crowded round me, kissed my brown-bearded 
cheeks, and pressed my sun-burned hands. 
Many new scenes of blessed Christmas may 
I have ; never one like that which welcomed 
the wanderer home ! 

But although England has its blessed seasons 
and festivals, in which Christmas Day stands 
first ; and, although that Christmas meeting 
will often and again be before my eyes, I 
cannot stay in England. My life is moulded 
to my adopted country j and where I have 
earned fortune, there I will spend it. The 
restraints, the conventionalities, the bonds 
created by endless divisions of society, are 
more than I can endure ; care seems to sit 
on every brow, and scornful pride in imaginary 
social superiority on too many. 

I have found the rosy English face, and the 
true English heart ! Some one who listened to 


the Australian stories of my Christmas week, 
which my friends were never tired of hearing, 
is ready to leave all and follow me to my 
pastoral home. I am now preparing for 
departure ; and neither society, nor books, 
nor music, will be wanting in what was, 
when I first knew it, a forest and grassy desert, 
peopled with wild birds and kangaroos. 
Nearly twenty relations accompany me ; 
some of them poor enough. In a few years 
you may find the Barnard-town settlement 
on Australian maps ; and there, at Christmas- 
time, or any time, true men and good women 
shall meet with welcome and help from me, 
for I shall never forget that I once began the 
world, a shepherd in a solitude, and gazed on 
the bright stars of a Christmas night, shining 
in a hot and cloudless sky. 

What Christmas Is if You 
Outgrow It 


THE floods round the little classic town of 
Bulferry were frozen. The trees round the 
meadows of St. Agnus Dei de Pompadour 
were the same. Dons went to chapel regularly, 
but the Dean of St. Agnus appeared in an 
extensive funeral-looking cloak, and the Sub- 
Dean coughed louder, and made more mis- 
takes in the responses, by reason of deafness, 
than heretofore. Coal and Blanket Societies 
were talked of. In few words, Christmas was 
fast approaching, and University men were 
looking forward to spending that season in 
town or country, according to their residence, 
inclinations, or invitations. 

Among the many young men who stood 
on the platform, awaiting the blazing dragon, 
which in two hours' time was to convey them 
to London, perhaps to take a chop at the 
" Cock," a little dinner at Verrey's, and a three- 
and-sixpenny cab-fare to some other station, 


was Mr. Horace De Lisle, a freshman, who 
had come "up" in the preceding October, 
and was now hastening back to the paternal 
hearth at St. Maurice, a charming little 
vicarage in Warwickshire, just large enough 
to be the best house in the village, just small 
enough to be sociable, allowing of half-a-dozen 
spare beds. Practically religious, without 
any morbid affectation of any " isms," the 
Rev. Augustus De Lisle was the best and 
most popular parson for miles round. His 
income might be some four hundred a year, 
besides a little property in the funds ; but 
judicious economy, and a little success in 
"gentleman farming," made it go very far, 
and St. Maurice rectory boasted its occasional 
dinner-party, its billiard-room, and its plain 
carriage ; while few of the poor or sick ever 
went away unrelieved. Mrs. De Lisle was a 
good and clever woman, and educated her own 
daughters ; which saved money and morals at 
the same time. 

However, like the generality of clergymen 
who have not much preferment, and who 
really do good, the Rev. Augustus De Lisle 
had a large family. Girls, even when edu- 
cated at home, cost something ; boys cost a 
great deal more, and cannot be kept at home. 
Two or three had been got off his hands, but 
Horace had been a pet boy, kept at home a 
good deal through ill-health. He was very 


amiable, loved his sisters and mother, and his 
father had made him a capital scholar. Several 
people were surprised when he took the St. 
Agnus Dei scholarship, and took the " bounce " 
out of the Tipton and Whortleberry boys at 
the same time. 

And so Horace had been sent to the Uni- 
versity, with the promise of eighty or a 
hundred pounds a year from his father, an 
odd present of fifty from an aunt, and a lot of 
tears, blessings, and hints at advice from his 
mother. He had now passed his first term. 
He had made up his mind to take a " double 
first," the Iceland scholarship, and the English 
verse ; he found Arnold's Thucydides a very 
stupid book, and wondered how it was that 
nothing " took " in the publishing way, unless 
it was " translated from the German." He 
believed in "stunning feeds," and began to 
have some ideas on the subject of claret. 

But he had still far too much love for home 
to find even a lingering inclination for a further 
stay. Moreover, ambition seemed to send him 
homeward. The Dean had said, in a gruff 
voice, " Very well, sir ! " to his construing of 
the " Birds" of Aristophanes ; the Rev. John 
o' Gaunt, his tutor, had expanded his lank lips 
into a smile, and had commended his Latinity ; 
and here was news for his father ! Again, 
he wanted to see Jack Harrowgate, his old 
shooting companion, to whom his favourite 


sister Lucy was engaged. Jack was a tre- 
mendous, rough, manly fellow, with a very 
kind heart, and great powers of sociability. 
Even Bruiser, of St. Alb-Cornice, who had 
thrashed the " Bunstead Grinder," shrank 
into insignificance when compared with Jack ; 
and Smillington, of St. Una de Lion, could 
not sing " Down among the dead men " half 
so well. Besides all this, Horace had some 
few private anxieties and doubts of which 

Great as was the readiness and frequency 
with which slang phrases were bandied to 
and fro at the University, there was one little 
word which seemed more in use than any, 
and which half the University appeared to 
be living to illustrate. 

When Horace first appeared at St. Agnus 
Dei, one of his first proceedings was to pay 
for his furniture ; and to purchase the good- 
will of the cups and saucers of the last 
inmate of his rooms. Several other ready- 
money transactions, on a small scale, evinced 
his desire and intention of avoiding debt ; 
and as his father had not only advised him to 
do so, but had furnished him with the means 
of eking out the small allowance of his 
scholarship, he himself felt ill-justified in 
overrunning his known income. 

But that word was sounding, ringing, 
dinning, and booming in his ears, hour after 



hour, day after day. That word was staring 
in his face ; whizzing before his eyes ; insinu- 
ating itself into his food ; adulterating the 
wine he drank. It stared at him in the form 
of one man's boots (so much better fitting 
than old Last's, at St. Maurice) ; in the broad 
stripe of another man's elegantly-cut trousers ; 
in the glossy hat of another ; in the faultless, 
close-to-the-waist-when-unbuttoned dress coat 
of another. It took all sorts of forms. It 
would transfer itself into a walking-cane, at 
one end of a street ; and at the end of 
another, it had suddenly become a plaid scarf, 
or a coral-headed breast-pin. Sometimes it 
would appear as a Yorkshire pie ; sometimes 
as a musical box. At one moment, just as 
he thought it was a pair of hair-brushes, it 
would suddenly turn itself into a steak and 
oyster-sauce at Cliften's. In the dreams of 
men, it would haunt them ; in their walks, it 
would cling to their very feet ; in their 
reading moments, it lay open before them ; 
in their smoking ones, it fumed with them. 
And that word was tick, tick, TICK. 

But Horace was not in debt. Oh no ! He 
had only commenced a few accounts for 
things which " one could not very well pay for 
till the end of term ; " and when the end of 
term came, he found he was obliged to write 
home for five pounds to come home with, and 
this, as it was his first term, his father thought 



nothing of. Then, he had " been obliged " to 
order "one or two things" at Stilty and 
Cabbagenet, the great tailor's ; but there could 
be no harm in that, because their names were 
put down on the list of tradesmen his tutor 
had handed him. Then, there were one or two 
little presents for his sisters, and a ring and 
a new watch-chain, which " he could pay for 
next term," and one or two other matters 
but " nothing of consequence." 

If you had seen how Horace kissed his 
sisters and mother, and how happy and how 
jolly he seemed when he got home, you would 
have been pleased, I think. He was certainly 
more manly in speech and manner, and 
more confident in expressing opinions ; but 
he had lost none of his social frankness and 
good-nature. But Christmas was getting 
close at hand, and Horace, somehow or other, 
did not evince so lively an interest in the 
preparations for it as formerly. He said 
something in reference to " their always boring 
about mince-meat ; " and he thought the 
charity-school dinner might be managed 
cheaper and with less trouble at the school- 
house, than in their own kitchen. 

Moreover, his father could scarcely under- 
stand the necessity of his reading in a bright- 
coloured chintz gown, lined with bright red 
silk, although his sisters thought it very 
pretty. His mother was afraid that his set of 



studs, representing little bunches of jewelled 
grapes, must have been rather expensive 
" But then, he had always been a quiet boy at 
home, and would not do so again." He also 
drank more wine, and once laughed about 
" boys taking two glasses of port after dinner ; " 
he ordered some pale ale up from London ; 
and abused tea as ditch-water, alleging that it 
hurt his nerves, and prevented him from read- 
ing. He called his pony a " mere hack," and 
showed discrimination in matters relating to 

But all these were minor difficulties, and 
Horace had too much real goodness of heart 
to ask his father for more money, or to 
obtrude his artificial wants except in fits of 
occasional peevishness. Besides, the Bishop 
of St. Epps was so pleased with his debut at 
St. Agnus Dei, that he had obtained for him 
an " exhibition," which put another thirty 
pounds a year into his pocket. This comforted 
him on the score of his present experiments 
with TICK. 

Christmas passed away, merrily. The house 
was a perfect bower of holly j good, whole- 
some dinners, and lively, hearty parties in 
the evening, "kept" the St. Maurice Christ- 
mas in genuine, downright style. And then 
came more junketing. Laura, thinking that 
there was no particular occasion to run away 
to the Lakes, as if marriage were a wicked 


action, said " yes " one evening to a curious 
question of Jack Harrington's, and absolutely 
got married next week. You may fancy what 
everybody said and did upon that occasion ! 

And now came the time for Horace to 
go back. Despite the domesticity of home, 
despite the absence of cold ducks at break- 
fast, of claret after dinner, and of lobster salad 
for supper despite the rough want of eti- 
quette, which led Jack Harrington to dance 
with his own wife, to prefer the ale of the 
St. Maurice and the Goat to Bass or All- 
sopp, and to drink healths at his own dinner- 
parties, Horace had not found so sincere, or 
so soundly rational a companion at college. 
He went back and with some regrets. 

It is a full three years, perhaps a trifle more, 
since Horace spent Christmas at his parental 
home. Many changes have taken place in 
that time. Laura is getting matronly on the 
strength of baby Number Two. Jack is get- 
ting additionally serious ; looks more sharply 
after business ; and gives fewer (though not 
less sociable) parties. The Reverend the Vicar 
of St. Maurice has got a small prebend, with 
the profits of which, he has insured his life in 
favour of three yet unmarried daughters. This 
Christmas at St. Maurice bids fair to rival 
all past Christmases in jollity, merriment, 
and social delight. Jack has just cleared 
97 H 


a few hundreds by a lucky hit of judicious 
speculation, and declares he will spare no 
expense in celebrating baby Number One's 
second birthday, which falls on Boxing 

But where is Horace ? Will he be as sociable 
as he used to be ? Will he come up a prodigy 
of scholarship and good-nature, half a don, 
yet with a whole and a sound heart ? The 
train is expected ; crowds are waiting on the 
platform, just as they waited this time three 
years since, and Horace is among them. 

But which is Horace ? It cannot be that 
young gentleman with haughty looks, a deli- 
cately-robust or robustly-delicate figure, a 
bundle of whips in his hand, and two Scotch 
terriers held in with a string ! It cannot be 
that white-over-coated, crushed-hatted, striped- 
shirted individual ! And yet it is he too. With 
whom is he talking ? It cannot be yes ! it is, 
it must be the Honourable Charley Cracker. 
Where are they going ? Surely Horace will 
go direct home ? We doubt it. 

Arrived in London a little dinner at some 
West End house beat up Sprigs, now in the 
1 2th. Two or three fellows that the Honour- 
able Charley Cracker knows Horace must 
know them. " De Lisle, of St. Agnus Dei," 
"Permit me to introduce you to my friend 
Sprigs, formerly of St. Walnuts De Grove 
capital fellow only sent away for smashing 


the college pump (this in an aside). Adjourn 
to the Lyceum farce getting slow so on to 
the Claret Cup, to hear Mr. Pope sing the 
Cross Bones " and O, Mrs. Manning ! " 
Get tired, so on again to the Parthenon Saloon 
no dancing only look on feel seedy 
soda-water and brandy too light ; pale ale, 
squeamish ; porter, too heavy ; and so to bed 
at Jarrett's Hotel. Headache late hours in 
the morning fish breakfast at Greenwich 
rather better u may as well go home in a day 
or two as now," &c., &c. 

A day or two is soon gone. Horace thinks 
he may as well go and "look in at the 
governor ; " and so he leaves the Honourable 
Charley Cracker. Honourable Charley Cracker 
is not a rogue or a sharper. He is merely an 
ass. He is a pupil of Horace De Lisle besides, 
who has taken to " coaching," and is open to 
any eligible offer with which ten or seventeen 
pounds a term is connected. He quits London 
with a sigh, takes out his purse with another, 
and a deeper sigh. 

Laura is as pretty a young mamma as you 
will meet in a long summer-day's walk, and 
Horace cannot help thinking so. But he 
don't like babies ; and baby Number One 
has taken alarm at his handsomest terrier, 
and is squalling energetically. Jack's old- 
fashioned house, with the window-door open- 
ing into a little snuggery of flowers and 



vegetables, is very different to Lady De Mont- 
faucon's conservatory, where he used to play 
chess, smoke cigars, and sometimes read, with 
his last long vacation pupil, the future Earl 
of Spitalfields. At home it is much the 
same. There is not so much as a bottle of 
hock in the whole cellar ; they will let the 
cat sleep on the rug in the dining-room, and 
the carriage is the same old-fashioned " tub " 
as ever. 

However, he gets over baby's birthday 
tolerably well, although he wishes Jack didn't 
know so many farmers. Besides, Jack will 
nurse baby Junior himself, and w ill hawk out 
baby Senior to shake his diminutive fists, 
at new-comers in general. He feels glad to 
get back again to the rectory, but it is very 
slow there. His father doesn't know the 
Montmorencies, nor the Honourable Charley 
Cracker, and wonders why he did not get the 
fellowship at St. Swithin. Furthermore, Bessy 
and Fanny have both got beaux, and the beaux 
are not University men. Tom Harris, the 
surgeon, would never do to introduce to the 
Honourable Charley, although Tom has a 
snug little practice, and has furnished his 
house in a style that will outlast half a thou- 
sand University friendships, and will make 
Bessy a thoroughly good husband. Fanny's 
intended is the new curate, who is not over 
High Church ; in fact, Horace thinks him 


rather a " pump," and wonders how he can 
live upon a hundred and twenty pounds a 

Horace owes a few odd hundred pounds ; 
but Standish and Co. and Stilty and Cab- 
bagenet are very quiet as yet, and he will give 
them a " few pounds " as soon as he can spare 
it. In fact, half the bills have not yet been 
sent in, for his debts are mostly of latter-day 
University growth. He has done respectably 
well in the school, but nothing more. He 
has, however, a large connexion, picks up 
pupils, and does hope to pick up some- 
thing else : indefinitely oscillating between 
the living of Dumdum, in the gift of the 
Montmorency family (his scholarship will give 
him a title) ; something under Government 
(he knows the Prime Minister's aunt's second 
cousin) ; and the Woolsack. But all his 
friends, who used to hear him decide the fate 
of the Continent in a speech of twenty 
minutes, at the Vox et prater ea Nihil Associ- 
ation, fill him with notions of briefs, oyster 
breakfasts, and the Temple. The difficulty 
is, the money. Cold-blooded as he is grown 
to home associations, he has no heart to rob 
Bessy and Fanny of the few hundreds their 
father can give with them ; still less to stint 
the younger members of their just meed of 
what he has himself enjoyed. But he is an 
unhappy creature. He wants everything and 


everybody except the things and people 
around him ; he is reserved where he used to 
be open, parsimonious from necessity where he 
was once generous. He cannot settle to any- 
thing, and the few days he has been at home 
have bored him as much as the conversation 
of the Honourable Charley would have bored 
his father. Other people perceive the change, 
and even he begins to have a glimpse of self- 

But, just as he is wondering why the deuce 
he thought of spending Christmas at home, 
a reprieve arrives in the shape of a letter from 
the Honourable Charley ; who, having in an 
evil hour accepted an invitation to his guar- 
dian's, finds he has nobody to smoke or drink 
pale ale with, and conceives a sudden desire 
for reading. The pay is liberal ; and, if it 
were not, getting away from home for the 
remaining nine or ten days of the vacation 
would be a fair equivalent for any amount of 
instruction likely to be imbibed by the mental 
absorbents of Charley's mind. 

Mrs. De Lisle cannot bear the idea of her 
" dear boy " leaving home before even the 
pudding is finished, especially as Jack Har- 
rington has invited the whole family to keep 
Twelfth Night. Twelfth Night at Jack's ! 
Noisy children, country dances, perhaps snap- 
dragon, and perhaps blind-man's-buff, with 
sisters Bessy and Fanny slipping out on the 



staircase, and coming in with heightened 
complexions, looking as if they had been 
kissed by goblins in human shape. Twelfth 
Night characters, too ! Perhaps draw a love 
motto with Polly Bright, the old half-pay 
admiral's daughter, about whom he once liked 
to be teased. Never ! 

And so Horace goes away. His father, 
perhaps, feels but little grieved ; for he hopes 
and thinks that his son's journey may tend to 
his future advantage, and he is too sensible to 
cherish that home-sickness which sometimes 
prevents a man from ever making a home for 
himself. But his mother cannot bear his sub- 
lime disdain of all the little innocent things 
that once called forth his highest approbation. 
She is almost afraid Polly Bright looks thin 
and anxious ; and she remembers that, just 
three years ago, Horace joked about his " little 
wife ; " and she wishes that, even by one kind 
look, he had repeated the joke. It is all one 
to Horace, who is gone. 

To be happy, Horace, or to be really 
merry ? My friend, my friend, a word in 
your ear ! You may be quite sure that you 
have grown too fast, when you find that you 
have outgrown Christmas. It is a very bad 
sign indeed. 


The Round Game of the 
Christmas Bowl 


[THIS Round Game, which comes, origin- 
ally, from Fairy-Land, is thus played. The 
Pool of the game is a capacious circular bowl, 
or basin, made of ice. It is some sixty or 
seventy feet in circumference, and all round 
the rim there is stuck a hedge of holly-boughs, 
in full berry, interspersed with coloured lamps 
and silver bells. Everybody who is inspired 
by Christmas festivities comes to put into the 
Pool. He is to put in something which is his 
pride. In doing this he generally throws in 
something which is equally his trouble ; and 
thus, by doing a generous act at Christmas, in 
throwing away his pride, he at the same time 
gets rid of one of his worst troubles.] 


HERE is a Pool, all made of ice, 

For a great round Christmas Game ! 

Its rim is set with green holly-boughs, 
And lamps of colour'd flame ; 


With silver bells that tinkle and gingle 
As each one his offering comes to mingle, 
Whether ingot of gold, or a grey sea shingle. 
Who comes first ? 'Tis the King, I declare, 
With the crown in his hand, and the frost in 

his hair ! 
Close to the Pool he brings his crown, 

And tosses it o'er the holly ! 
So, away to the bottom goes all his pride, 
And his royal melancholy ; 
While gingle ! tinkle ! gingle ! 

How the sweet bells ring ! 
And round about the lighted Pool 
We gambol, dance, and sing ! 

Who comes next ? 

'Tis a Minister of State, 
With a Puzzle made of weights and wheels, 

And balanced on his pate ! 
To the Pool of Christmas Offerings 

The Treasury Lord advances ; 
Souse over, goes his Puzzle, 

And away his Lordship dances ! 
While gingle ! tinkle ! gingle ! 

How the sweet bells ring ! 
And round about the lighted Pool 
We gambol, dance, and sing ! 

Who comes next ? 

'Tis the First Gold Stick ! 
With the First Cock'd Hat ! 

And the First General Brick ! 


In the Pool they toss their darlings 
Sword hat stick garniture ! 

And retire to the allegro 
Of the Minuet de la Cour ! 

But while they caper back, 

Three Slaves-to-Dress advance, 
In splendid, killing curls and rouge, 
The last bright thought of France ! 
They say " 'Tis Christmas-time j 

To the Round Game we will come ; 
Let us throw away our fashions, 

And for once ' let's look at home ! ' " 
While glngle ! tinkle ! glngle ! 

How the sweet bells ring! 
And round about the lighted Pool 
We gambol^ dance^ and sing ! 

But who comes now ? 

'Tis the Bishop in his carriage, 
Whose shoulders bear the pain and pride 

Of Church and State's mis-marriage : 
A huge bale of lawn and purple 

He heaves into the Pool, 
And, nodding to his coachman, 

Trips off, relieved and cool ! 

The Millionaire comes next, 

With a loan to help a war, 
On the wrong side of all justice 

And his " interest " not so sure. 


He inflates and he collapses 

His mind grows sick and dim 
Oh, the pangs of breeding money ! 
His loan flutters o'er the brim ! 
With gmgle ! tinkle ! gingle ! 
How the sweet bells ring ! 
As round about the lighted Pool 
We gambol^ dance y and sing ! 

Who is this in red and gold ? 

'Tis the Soldier with his sword, 
And riding on a cannon 

Bedizen'd, bless'd, adored ! 
Round his neck he wears a chain, 

For a show and a pretence, 
But engraved with fiery letters 

Claiming blind obedience : 
His pride and bane are loosed 

They fly o'er the holly fence ! 

Next, a Lawyer, with his costs 

Making full a thousand pounds, 
With a score of breaking hearts, 

And five years of waste and wounds. 
His face is cold and wretched 

His life is but a span 
A red tape-worm, at the best, 

In a black coat stuff 'd with bran : 
He tosses o'er his bill of costs ! 

He is quite another man ! 


With gingle ! tinkle ! gingle ! 

How the sweet bells ring ! 
And round about the lighted Pool 

We gambol^ dance y and sing ! 

The Merchant brings his bargain, 

Which would beggar half a town ; 
The Schemer shows a " spec," 

But deserves each good man's frown ; 
The Scholar brings his book, 

Where his soul, all moulting, lies ; 
The Poet brings his laurel 

And his castle in the skies ; 
The Lover brings his mistress 

Who has treated him with scorn ; 
The Shepherd brings his favourite lamb, 

With its curly fleece unshorn ; 
All these into the Pool 

Are cast, with various smarts, 
As valued Christmas Offerings, 

Inspired with Christmas hearts ! 
While gingle ! tinkle ! gingle ! 

How the sweet bells ring ! 
And round about the lighted Pool 
We gambol^ dance, and sing ! 

[The crowd of players at the Game, having 
joined hands in this concluding dance, now 
whirl round the Pool of Ice, gambolling and 
singing ; and they continue to do this, till the 
charm begins to work, and the heat of the 


Christmas hearts outside causes the Offering 
which each has thrown in, to warm to such 
a genial glow, that the heat thus collectively 
generated, melts the ice. The Pool gradually 
dissolves the players of the game, one after 
another, sink down exhausted, and fall into a 
delightful reverie ; while the melted Pool over- 
flows, and floats every one of them to his 
home, as he seems to lie in a mother-of-pearl 
boat, with a branch of holly at the prow, and 
a coloured lamp amidst the green leaves 
and red berries. Each one, soon after, reco- 
vers his senses just enough to find himself 
lying comfortably in bed, and listening to the 
waits !] 







PN What Christmas is as we grow 

6071 older